A Tribe Called Red member Ian Campeau (a.k.a. DJ NDN) has filed a human rights complaint against the Nepean Redskins Football Club over the use of its name.
Following a couple of years of campaigning for a name change, the musician, who is of Ojibway descent, is taking his complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal in an attempt to force the National Capital Amateur Football Association to alter the Ottawa-area team's name and stop using a cartoon-styled logo of a First Nations man, both of which he finds offensive.
"If it was the Blackskins or Yellowskins this wouldn't even be a conversation," Campeau told the Ottawa Citizen. "But for the Redskins I have to file a human rights complaint. It's ludicrous."
Campeau says he filed the complaint on behalf of his five-year-old daughter, who he notes is eligible to play for the youth football team but "wouldn't feel welcome to even watch a game let alone be part of the team" because of its current image.
"The players call each other 'redskins' on the field," Campeau explained. "How are they going to differentiate the playing field from the schoolyard? What's going to stop them from calling my daughter a redskin in the schoolyard? That's as offensive as using the N-word."
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo supports Campeau's move, noting that the Redskins' name is "offensive and hurtful and completely inappropriate."
"First Nations are too often exposed to racism and discrimination," Atleo added, "and I do not want to see any young indigenous child hurt because their peers use this term in the mistaken belief that it is acceptable. This complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal speaks to the broader need for greater public awareness, education and understanding about First Nations people and our shared history and priorities."
Spokespeople for the football organization, meanwhile, have said that they have consulted with the local aboriginal community and have received positive feedback over the team name.
"We did reach out to the aboriginal community, we asked for their guidance on the use of the name, and we're actually advised to continue," Redskins president Steve Dean told the CBC earlier this week at a team practice. "Certainly the fact that the club presents such a positive influence in the community — and the name is synonymous with that — brings a positive light to the name."
Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition chair Marc Maracle confirmed with CBC that they had been approached by the team, noting: "They didn't choose the name with any malicious intent to insult or criticize the aboriginal community here in Ottawa or the aboriginal population in general. And in our discussions with them, it was clearly a recognition of strength and pride and character in aboriginal people collectively."
If Campeau's complaint is successful, he wants to allow the Redskins a five-year period to rebrand.
Campeau and his A Tribe Called Red bandmates have stood up in the name of Aboriginal pride in the past, recently decrying fans for showing up to their performances in culturally insensitive redface or adorned in ceremonial attire like headdresses. "Non Natives that come to our shows, we need to talk. Please stop wearing headdresses and war paint. It's insulting," they tweeted earlier this year.
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