A Racist Period In Our Own Chatham Sports History

We aren’t immune to our own racist history here in Chatham-Kent. Thankfully, our local sports story regarding a racist name and logo was relatively short lived, and is now no longer, but it was there.

Watching the naming and logo controversies of Washington (NFL), Edmonton (CFL), Atlanta (MLB), Cleveland (MLB), and Chicago (NHL), among others, makes it feel like a big league issue.

But that isn’t the case. Junior hockey teams, baseball teams, football teams, and many more have used racist names and logos for decades.

Let’s look at the Chatham MicMacs. A name used by the Chatham’s Junior B hockey team from 1988 until 1995.

It was an appropriation, and Anglicising of Miꞌkmaq, the name of Indigenous people of the Northeastern Woodlands. The Miꞌkmaq people are credited with making the first ice hockey stick, a brand later called Mic-Macs.

Obviously, as seen above, the logo used by the Chatham MicMacs in the 1980s and 1990s was a racist caricature of an Indigenous person, similar to that currently used by the Chicago Blackhawks.

The same can be said for the Tilbury Hawks. A team now known more for their ill-fated hazing scandal that saw criminal charges, and the removal of the franchise from Tilbury.

The team also brandished a racist logo.

Thankfully, the Chatham Maroons name was returned, a name which similar to the Montreal Maroons, represented the colour of the team’s uniforms.

With the exception of the 1988-1995 period of Junior hockey in Chatham, the Maroons name has remain in tact since founding in 1959. The only other exception was a two-year stint as the Chatham Maple City Fords from 1976-1978.

What we can hope for now, is that new teams choose appropriate names and logos (or rather that governing bodies demand it and monitor it), and that existing teams take a look at their history, and acknowledge racism, and work toward reconciliation.

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