Canucks release statement concerning Orca logo controversy

Dec 17 2020, 5:53 pm

*Note: Since publishing this article, Squamish Nation spokesperson Khelsilem has clarified that the statement was “sent out in error without approval from the Squamish Nation.” 

The Canucks’ logo since 1997 incorporates First Nations design but was not designed by a First Nations person. There was backlash when Braden Holtby’s goalie mask was unveiled last week, with many people saying it was cultural appropriation. Holtby has since apologized and is getting his mask redesigned, but then attention shifted to the team’s logo.

Was it guilty of cultural appropriation too?

“We consult with the First Nations on many issues around our teams and businesses, and value their wise counsel,” said Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini in a statement on Wednesday.

“We understand that not everyone embraces the Canucks logo but are very pleased that so many people do, including our First Nations friends. We’re grateful for this show of support and all the positive feedback we’ve received.”

Aquilini also pointed out that the organization collaborated with First Nations people on the Vancouver Warriors lacrosse team branding in 2018.

The Canucks released a joint-statement on behalf of the Three Host Nations chiefs of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, in which they spoke highly of their relationship with the Canucks. Khelsilem has since stated that it was released without permission of the Squamish Nation.

“We feel it is important to come forward and make a statement highlighting the long-standing relationship between the host nations and the Vancouver Canucks as well as the Aquilini family,” read the statement. “For over a decade, we have worked side-by-side to build a long and meaningful relationship based on respect and family-to-family values.

“The Aquilini family has supported the communities by honouring the Nations, creating space in their organization for our people, and ensuring the nations are represented in their events. Our Nations appreciate the work they do and their friendship. We will continue to strengthen this relationship and support their endeavours through the ever-changing times.”

The Canucks have hosted an annual “First Nations Celebration Night” in each of the last two seasons. Representatives from the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tseil-Waututh Nations were on hand last season to drop the puck at centre ice.

“The Vancouver Canucks and the Aquilini family respect and admire the First Nations people of British Columbia and are grateful for our many meaningful personal and professional relationships,” said Canucks COO Trent Carroll. “We are in continuous dialogue on many aspects of our various businesses, including branding and logos. As an example, most recently, we collaborated on the Vancouver Warriors lacrosse team branding.”

The Aquilini family has also worked closely with local Nations on a wide range of development projects and other opportunities for decades. The Orca logo has been on a Canucks jersey longer than any other logo in team history and has many supporters from across BC, including our First Nations friends.

“The majority of feedback has been very positive over the past few days, and we look forward to many more years of strong relationships with First Nations communities across BC.”

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