Let's Play Ball: Recognizing Indigenous Territory at Blue Jays Games

Posted by Cheryl Payne-Stevens on October 14, 2016

It’s playoff time! Toronto is welcoming the Cleveland Indians for the American League Championship Series, and things are stirring on social media. Why hasn’t Cleveland changed their name? For years, they’ve been using culturally insensitive names; and as Canadians, we can no longer stand by the degradation of Indigenous culture and beliefs. As a generation who is part of the Truth and Reconciliation movement, we can’t help but notice, Indigenous culture isn’t exposed to us the same way other cultures are. It’s become undeniably clear to us that mistakes have been made in the past, and that pain of the past; still persists today.

We may not have learned a lot about Indigenous cultures, but we do however know about the Rogers Centre, and we are sure you do as well. It’s the home of the Toronto Blue Jays, Drake concerts and yet, to many, the fact that it was built on the land of Canada’s Indigenous people is unheard of.

We became outraged as we listened to Matt Galloway’s interview with Jesse Wente on Metro Morning. The name “Indians” is offensive, and needlessly so. The Cleveland baseball team’s mascot is also racist; it is cartoon of a red-face man with a large feather sticking out from his head - this is Chief Wahoo. Some broadcasters refuse to reinforce this racism and only refer to the team as “Cleveland.”  During this time of truth and reconciliation, we need to confront these stereotypes, create awareness and promote positive change.

Now is the time for reconciliation. If the Indigenous lands that we live and play on are acknowledged, people will inevitably become more aware of the situation. Indigenous peoples deserve recognition for the historical injustices of the past, as well as the present. It is our responsibility to to move this country forward on the path of reconciliation. 

We think that The Blue Jays have a chance to play a crucial role in reconciliation in this country by  recognizing the ancestral home of the Indigenous people through a formal land acknowledgement said  before the national anthems are sung. We think that where we’re playing is just as important as what we’re playing!

The Blue Jays recognizing the land while playing Cleveland will show everyone watching how much this matters and hopefully guide Cleveland into making a change. This may seem like a small step, but it’s the first, one which has yet to be taken. It is necessary, because we continue to claim to be in a time  of reconciliation and this is something that we can do.

Please join us to encourage Canada’s team to really come together and send a powerful message to to North America - this is a game for ALL to enjoy - inclusively and, respectfully!

Raise awareness and spread the cause: 

Thank you,

Woodlands Students : Aarti, Rachel, Ajit, Jessica, Nadine, Rena & Simren

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Topics: News, Canada, Truth and Reconciliation, Indigenous History, Indigenous, trc

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