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Could Canadian Tribunal Spell Doom for Chief Wahoo?

Chief WahooU.S. activists have rallied again Chief Wahoo, the controversial Cleveland Indians logo for years, but a Canadian human-rights tribunal may be key in persuading team ownership to finally address the situation.

It’s no secret that MLB would love to see Chief Wahoo consigned to the history files, and in recent years Indians ownership has pulled back on the Indian imagery. But there are still plenty of uses of the logo aside from the cap. Earlier this year MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred came out against Chief Wahoo.

That act may be accelerated thanks to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, where First Nations Elder Douglas Cardinal has filed a complaint, arguing that the use of the Indians team name and Chief Wahoo is discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code. MLB, Cleveland and Rogers Communications (Toronto Blue Jays and Rogers Centre owner) attempted to have the complaint thrown out on jurisdictional ground, arguing that the tribunal lacked standing to decide on the issues.

That move did not succeed, as yesterday the tribunal rejected the argument and allowed the Cardinal complaint to move forward.

“As an Indigenous person, I am encouraged that the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has accepted jurisdiction over my complaint and agrees that it can proceed to a hearing,” Cardinal said in a press statement. “Unfortunately, the consciousness of genocide and apartheid continues to be fostered by the insensitive use of demeaning and degrading symbols, mocking indigenous peoples. This must cease in order for reconciliation to have any meaning and substance.”

Cardinal is being represented by the law firm of Lenczner Slaght. The next move will be a hearing, which has not been scheduled. Cardinal is asking that the Indians name and Chief Wahoo logo not be used while the team plays in Toronto.

The Indians’ current road uniform sports an “Indians” jersey script and a Chief Wahoo logo on the sleeve. The team switched to a primary “C” block on caps in 2014.

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