An Indigenous man who filed a complaint about the use of Aboriginal team names and logos in Mississauga testified Monday in front of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, saying he wants to cut funding to the organizations that use them, and remove the logos from municipal buildings.
"To be reduced to a cartoon, very much as a stereotypical cartoon, that's insulting," Brad Gallant told the tribunal.
Gallant, 48, was emotional as he talked about how growing up, his parents and extended family didn't talk about their Indigenous status.
"I don't understand why they were ashamed," he said.
Gallant, a member of the Qualipu Mi'kmaq First Nation, received his status card in 2011. His two daughters, ages 14 and 16, also have their status cards and played hockey for teams with Indigenous names and logos until Gallant pulled them off those teams.
Gallant, who filed the formal complaint with the Human Rights Commission of Ontario in April 2015, claimed the City of Mississauga should not be funding teams with "racially insensitive" names or logos.
In his complaint, Gallant says "the institutional racism at the City of Mississauga is responsible" for allowing the names to remain.
His case against the city has four intervenors: the Human Rights Commission of Ontario, the Mississauga Girls Hockey League, the Lorne Park Clarkson Hockey Association, and the Meadowvale Hockey Association.
At the start of the hearing, the city advised that the Meadowvale Hockey Association was going to drop the use of the name Mohawks, and instead be referred to as the Hawks.
In his opening statement, Gallant's lawyer Jeremiah Raining Bird argued that the use of Indigenous names and logos by hockey teams is harmful.
- Complaint about Mississauga Indigenous team names comes to Human Rights Tribunal today
In its opening statement, the City of Mississauga said it had tried to arrange a meeting with Gallant, but he refused to meet. It also said that the teams are in charge of choosing names and logos, and that the city is not "in control."
But Gallant said the city does fund the rinks and other facilities the teams use.
In the witness box, Gallant talked about how these logos and names reinforce stereotypes of the "noble savage."
"I'm not ashamed of being a Native," Gallant said.
"I'm not ashamed of being a Native." - Brad Gallant
He also said that the mascots are affecting his children negatively. They understand that these mascots are wrong and his 16-year-old daughter is the most vocal. He says that she can't understand why these mascots are still used because of what she has learned about residential schools and the inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women.
Gallant testified about how angry he was not just about use of the Indigenous mascots and logos, but that people didn't care they were being used.
The hearing will resume Tuesday morning.
An earlier version of this story contained a dated image of the Mississauga Chiefs logo. The image that was published was the Chiefs' logo before it was changed in 2011 based on feedback from representatives from the Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation.Nov 22, 2016 4:00 PM ET