Mississauga Set to Remove Certain Images from Sports Facilities

 

There's been a long-standing debate about the appropriateness of using First Nations imagery and mascots in sports facilities, and the City of Mississauga has decided to remove such images going forward. 

On Sept. 11, city council endorsed a new policy that will address a number of issues brought forward in a 2018 settlement made by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC). 

The city says the new Use of Indigenous Images/Themes in City Sports Facilities Policy promotes a positive and inclusive experience at city sports facilities while supporting a climate of understanding and mutual respect. 

"Mississauga prides itself on being one of the most culturally diverse and welcoming cities in the world," said Mayor Bonnie Crombie in a statement. 

"It's important that our facilities reflect our commitment to inclusivity and are places where everyone feels welcomed, safe and respected. We are proud of our city's rich history and the Indigenous communities past and present who have helped shape Mississauga into the world-class city we are today. This policy is an important step on the path to reconciliation and demonstrates our continued commitment and respect for First Nations people and all visitors to our sporting facilities."

The new policy will not permit the display of Indigenous images in the city's indoor and outdoor sports facilities that are related to non-Indigenous sports organizations. 

This includes displays during events.

The move follows a human rights complaint that was launched in 2018. 

Late last year, Brad Gallant, a Mi'kmaq man who currently lives in Mississauga, announced that his application before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) against the City of Mississauga regarding the use of Indigenous-themed mascots at city sports facilities was resolved.

According to a 2018 news release, the Human Rights Commission intervened in the case to highlight the impacts of racism and cultural appropriation, especially on Indigenous youth, and was also party to the settlement.

In light of the case, the city agreed to remove from Mississauga sports facilities Indigenous-themed mascots, symbols, names and imagery related to non-Indigenous sports organizations and supplement its diversity and inclusion training with expanded material addressing reconciliation and Indigenous peoples.

On Sept. 11, the city announced both of those actions are enshrined in the new policy. 

The city says the new policy also addresses actions related to municipal government within the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action.

"We are committed to continuously improving the diversity and inclusion training that we make available to all city of Mississauga employees to ensure they understand the perspectives, goals and interests of Indigenous people," said Janice Baker, City Manager and Chief Administrative Officer, in a statement. 

"This policy will help us by defining the roles and responsibilities of the city and our staff as we continue to build this important relationship."

The city also committed to a number of objectives laid out by the HRTO in December 2018.

Going forward, the city will engage with Indigenous groups and non-Indigenous community sport organizations to build awareness of this policy, continue to educate non-Indigenous sport organizations and clubs who are still using Indigenous images and enhance its diversity and inclusion staff training with material addressing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action.

The policy was developed in consultation and collaboration with several Indigenous organizations. 

To learn more about the policy, click here

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