In 2016 an injunction was sought to prevent the Chief Wahoo logo from being displayed when Cleveland visited Toronto. The move was unsuccessful, but the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal agreed to hear the complaint. Major league baseball is challenging the Tribunal’s right to rule on the issue

In 2016 an injunction was sought to prevent the Chief Wahoo logo from being displayed when Cleveland visited Toronto. The move was unsuccessful, but the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal agreed to hear the complaint. Major league baseball is challenging the Tribunal’s right to rule on the issue
Photo Credit: Mark Duncan/Associated Press

Major League Baseball in Ontario Court today

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Alleged racist sports team names, logos challenged

Lawyers from Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Cleveland Indians team will plead their case in Ontario Divisional Court today over the team name and mascot/logo.

In 2016, the Cleveland Indians baseball team was set to appear in Toronto against the Blue Jays in a playoff series game. Several individuals and groups complained that the name “Indians” and the club mascot logo, “Chief Wahoo” were racist, and wanted the team banned, or at least stop Canadian radio and TV announcers from actually saying the word “indian”  showing the logo image and obliging the Cleveland team to change uniforms to the one merely showing the letter “C” for Cleveland.

Jan 5/17: Edwin Encarnacion shows off his new Cleveland Indians jersey after finalizing his three-year, $60-million US deal. An Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has agreed to hear a case against the team name as being *racist*, The team is in court to block the Tribunal saying its overstepping its bounds
Jan 5/17: Edwin Encarnacion shows off his new Cleveland Indians jersey after finalizing his three-year, $60-million US deal. An Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has agreed to hear a case to prevent the name and team logo from use in Canada as being *racist*, The team is in Ontario court today to try to block the Tribunal saying it’s overstepping its bounds © Tony Dejak/Associated Press

RCI-Nov 2016- challenge to indigenous team names

Indigenous Canadian architect Douglas Cardinal filed an injunction request just prior to the game but that was rejected by an Ontario Superior Court judge in the case of Cardinal v. Cleveland Indians Baseball Company Limited Partnership, 2016 ONSC 6929

The judge said the case could have been brought long before the actual match between the teams so the “urgent” nature of the application was rejected.

Cardinal however did win the right to bring the case against the Cleveland Indians, Major League Baseball, and Rogers Communication (the broadcaster of the game) to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

Cardinal’s lawyer says that the team name and logo are discriminatory, and racist and violate human rights codes.

Cardinal’s case is also before the  Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Indigenous activist and architect Douglas Cardinal wants the Cleveland Indians to do away with what he calls a racist team name and logo. ’It’s about time it ended,’ he says
Indigenous activist and architect Douglas Cardinal wants the Cleveland Indians to do away with what he calls a racist team name and logo. ’It’s about time it ended,’ he says © Sandra Abma/CBC

MLB lawyers are arguing today in an Ontario court that the Tribunal is overstepping its authority saying it is attempting to infringe upon federal jurisdictions and international agreements on copyrights and trademarks, and also that agreeing with Cardinal would represent Ontario’s refusal to recognize valid foreign trademarks (the name and logo) that have been also registered in Canada.

They say Cardinal should base his complaint on the Trademarks Act which has rules against trademarks that are “scandalous, obscene, or immoral”.

A ruling in favour of Cardinal would mean the Cleveland team could not use the name Indian, or wear the uniform showing the logo in Ontario, and possibly anywhere in Canada, and would have other ramifications for other teams such as the MLB Atlanta Braves, or Canada’s football team , the Edmonton Eskimos.

Complaints were filed against the names of several minor league hockey teams in Ontario as being racist and discriminatory.. Many teams have since voluntarily replaced controversy names and logos © via CBC

In recent years many minor league, high school, and university teams in Canada have changed indigenous-themed names in the face of criticism they were racist.

Additional information – sources

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