Last season, the Chicago Blackhawks visited the MTS Centre in Winnipeg to take on the Jets. A Blackhawks fan attended the game, wearing a native headdress.
A longtime Jets fan named Jordan Wheeler didn’t find this appropriate, and registered a complaint with True North Sports and Entertainment, the Jets’ owners. Wheeler is Cree, from the George Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan.
The Blackhawks were back in town on Thursday night. The Jets were asked if headdresses would be banned from the arena.
They said they would not, via CBC News and senior director of communications Scott Brown:
After much research, True North has decided not to ban headdresses to sporting events at the MTS Centre. Instead, staff will deal with the situation "on a case by case basis … rather than come down with one blanket policy."
"Once you make a policy or whatever it could have far reaching effects which you may not be aware of at the time you make the policy," Brown said.
Well, there must have been some additional research between that statement and the start of the game, as Brown said that the Jets had reversed course on the headdress issue:
"Given the attention the issue is getting today, it's probably one that we wanted to have a clear understanding of."
Brown says the move comes after owner Mark Chipman met with prominent indigenous leaders, including Assembly of Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak and MLA Kevin Chief.
"After gaining probably a better understanding of that significance we have decided that going forward we will no longer be allowing costume and non-authentic headdresses into MTS Centre for hockey events," he said.
Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs congratulated the Jets for taking the lead on this issue. "I am between a rock and a hard place, because I do believe that it is disrespectful to appropriate imagery in that way," he said to the CBC. "I am also empathetic to those people who clearly don't have an understanding about how these sacred items become to be in our care."
This of course all track back to the Blackhawks’ logo and nickname, which has been thrown into the debate over the Redskins name by the Redskins themselves, but that hasn’t sparked the same level of debate and alarm.
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