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Indigenous Toronto youth calling for end to racist team names, logos

'The change is not about political correctness. It's about treating other people fairly and equitably.'

Sam Mukwa Kloetstra is a youth council coordinator for the Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle.

May Warren / Metro Order this photo

Sam Mukwa Kloetstra is a youth council coordinator for the Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle.

Indigenous youth are adding their voices to one woman’s proposal that Ontario schools  do away with racist names, logos and mascots for sports teams.

“It’s long overdue,” said Sam Mukwa Kloetstra, a youth council coordinator for the Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle.

Young people need to be at the forefront of the campaign to help support their culture and history, he said.

“These team names and mascots exist because in the past we weren't allowed to have an opinion on the representation of ourselves because we were considered sub human,” Kloetstra added.

Brampton teacher Debbie White launched the proposal at this week’s Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario annual meeting in Toronto.

Some major sports leagues in the United States have come under fire for names such as Redskins and Indians. Closer to home, schools in Mississauga and Brampton have promised changes. 

Neither of the Toronto school boards has teams that use indigenous names and symbols.

But, it’s not hard to find other examples across Canada, Kloetstra said.

“We still have the Edmonton Eskimos, for example,” he said, noting such names make indigenous people feel “ashamed and mocked.”

“The change is not about political correctness. It's about treating other people fairly and equitably.”

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