Mississauga Human Rights Settlement

HUMAN RIGHTS CASE SETTLES: CITY OF MISSISSAUGA TO REMOVE INDIGENOUS MASCOTS FROM MISSISSAUGA SPORTS’ FACILITIES

HUMAN RIGHTS CASE SETTLES: CITY OF MISSISSAUGA TO REMOVE INDIGENOUS MASCOTS FROM MISSISSAUGA SPORTS’ FACILITIES

12 December 2018
Mississauga, ON

The week of the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations International Declaration of Human Rights marks a positive step forward for the protection of the human rights of First Nation, Inuit and Métis peoples flowing from the resolution of two applications before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

Mr. Brad Gallant, a Mi’kmaq man who resides in Mississauga, announced today that his application before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) against the City of Mississauga regarding the use of Indigenous-themed mascots at City sports facilities has been resolved. The Human Rights Commission intervened in the case to highlight the impacts of racism and cultural appropriation, especially on Indigenous youth, and was also party to the settlement.

The City of Mississauga has agreed:

(a) to remove from Mississauga sports facilities Indigenous-themed mascots, symbols, names and imagery related to non-Indigenous sports organizations;
(b) to supplement its Diversity and Inclusion training with expanded material addressing reconciliation and Indigenous peoples; and
(c) to develop a policy related to the use of Indigenous images and themes at its sports facilities, and will develop that policy by working with Indigenous groups, including the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, the Peel Aboriginal Network, the Indigenous Youth Council of the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, and other groups such as the Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario (formerly the Aboriginal Sport and Wellness Council of Ontario).

“This is positive step forward to ensure the equality and to protect the dignity and well-being of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, and especially of Indigenous youth,” said Gallant. “I’m grateful to my lawyer, Matt McPherson of OKT LLP for his support in this process, as well as to Danny Kastner of Kastner Law for his assistance.”

“Despite some of the progress we have made as a society, the reality is that every single day in this country, Indigenous people face discrimination. We need to work to tear down the structures of discrimination, and we can start with the continued use of Indigenous peoples as mascots for sports teams. These types of images and mascots are harmful and have a negative effect on both Indigenous and non-Indigenous kids. Things can change but we must expect and demand the equality that all are provided under Canadian human rights laws. ”

“I am pleased with the settlement and happy to move forward,” said Gallant.

Mr. Gallant would also like to thank Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board for committing to end the use of Indigenous logos and mascots at its schools as part of the resolution of HRTO complaint. Under the settlement, the School Board agreed to:

(a) amend its dress codes and ensure that the dress codes will prohibit the wearing of any clothing with messages containing offensive content, including the use of Indigenous symbols and imagery.
(b) inform all secondary students that Indigenous mascots are not to be worn by students on clothing or bags (hockey or backpacks) at school or when attending school-related events.

“I want to make sure that my daughters and other Indigenous kids won’t have to be confronted by these hurtful images and logos when they go to school. I thank the School Board for taking a leadership role in putting these policies in place. I hope the Board will move quickly to implement the provisions of the settlement to protect Indigenous kids.”

“In time, I hope that together these commitments by Mississauga’s institutions can play a small role in helping Canadians reconcile themselves with our culture’s tolerance of Indigenous racism, and seek to change.”

Mr. Gallant’s application alleging discrimination against Mississauga under Ontario’s Human Rights Code was originally brought in March 2015 as a result of concerns about the use of Indigenous-themed mascots, logos, and imagery by five, youth hockey-clubs playing and practicing at City of Mississauga ice rinks. The original hearing took place between 2016 and early 2018. The Human Rights Commission of Ontario was a party to and participated in the hearing and settlement.

For more information and comment contact:
Brad Gallant
bradgallant@rogers.com
(647) 309-8345

Matt McPherson, Legal counsel
mmcpherson@oktlaw.com
416-981-9343 (w), 416-820-7191 (cell) 

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