Case seeking to ban Indians name and mascot in Toronto will be heard

A complaint seeking to ban the Cleveland Indians name and Chief Wahoo logo will be heard by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. Douglas Cardinal, an activist who filed the suit, won an interim decision that allows him to take the case before the group.

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Cardinal is the same person who brought a suit against the Indians, Major League Baseball and Rogers Communications as the Indians played the Toronto Blue Jays during the 2016 postseason. The Ontario Supreme Court ruled against Cardinal in that instance.

At the time of that decision, Cardinal mentioned he also had complaints out to the Human Rights Tribunal that he still planned to pursue.

Cardinal has argued that both the name “Indians” and the Chief Wahoo logo are discriminatory, according to the Toronto Star.

“As an Indigenous person, I am encouraged that the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has accepted jurisdiction over my complaint and agrees that it can proceed to a hearing,” Cardinal said in a prepared statement.

“Unfortunately, the consciousness of genocide and apartheid continues to be fostered by the insensitive use of demeaning and degrading symbols, mocking indigenous peoples,” Cardinal said. “This must cease in order for reconciliation to have any meaning and substance.”

The Chief Wahoo logo has come under greater scrutiny in recent years. During Cleveland’s postseason run, activists gathered to protest the mascot. One announcer for the Blue Jays refused to use the team’s name during broadcasts.

An activist believes Chief Wahoo and the Indians team name is discriminatory. (AP Photo)
An activist believes Chief Wahoo and the Indians team name is discriminatory. (AP)

Cleveland has taken steps to phase out the Chief Wahoo logo, but it still remains a part of the team’s uniforms.

That might not be the case soon. Commissioner Rob Manfred has met with team ownership and expressed a desire that the club “transition away” from Chief Wahoo. The two sides have been discussing the issue since October, though Cleveland hasn’t made any definitive statements about eliminating the logo.

The ruling on Cardinal’s complaint could accelerate the process. While Manfred has made his position clear, he also hasn’t put pressure on the team to act immediately. That could change if the league continues to get hit with lawsuits and discrimination complaints.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik