Moose Jaw Warriors hockey team undergoing review of logo

The hockey team has been in Moose Jaw since the franchise moved from Winnipeg in 1984.

Saskatchewan hockey team announced the review on social media

The Moose Jaw Warriors Hockey Club is starting a formal review of its primary logo. (Peter Mills/CBC)

The Moose Jaw Warriors team from the Western Hockey League is launching a formal review of its primary logo. 

The team made the announcement through a statement posted on social media. 

"This is not a decision we've made based on any type of pressures. It's not something that we've had an abundance of complaints by any means. It's not something that we're being forced to do," Alan Millar, the team's general manager, said. "[It's] something we feel that we had to do."

Millar said the organization has been talking about the logo for a few years and believes now is the right time to start the formal review process. 

"We felt it was important to be transparent on what we were doing as a hockey club," he said. "We want to go through a process and engage with our partners and see what the future holds."

Millar said the team's name, Indigenous branding and history all came from Winnipeg. The Warriors franchise moved from there in 1984. 

"I'm not going out on a limb by saying in today's cultural environment, the first two logos would be considered culturally insensitive," he said.

The original logo showed an Indigenous man with a feather in his hair, an ax in one hand and a hockey stick in another.

The Winnipeg Warriors logo was brought over with the team to Moose Jaw in 1984. It was changed after the 1987/1988 season. In the 2014/2015 season, the logo was brought back for one year in recognition of the team's 30th anniversary. (Moose Jaw Warriors website)

It was changed after the 1987/1988 season in favour of the red headdress logo that is still used today. The original logo was brought back for one season in 2014/2015 to mark the team's 30th anniversary. 

"We moved to a brand with the headdress that we've always felt has been respectful, but at the same time, when I talk about the history … part of our review idea is if we decide to go down the road of a change, do we look at this as an opportunity?" he said.

Millar said this could be a chance to do something more reflective of the local community of Moose Jaw or the province of Saskatchewan, as opposed to the legacy inherited from Winnipeg. 

The organization respects diversity and inclusion, Millar said, and as a community-owned team hopes to hear from anyone with thoughts on the review. 

"We're looking forward to engaging with our stakeholders, the leaders in our community, our corporate partners. And we've already started that process with a lot of positive feedback," he said.

Some professional sports teams with Indigenous-themed logos have been changing their names this year, with the Washington Football Club changing its logo and name from the Washington Redskins and the Edmonton Football Club changing its name from the Edmonton Eskimos.

The Kansas City Chiefs NFL team also banned fans from wearing headdresses and war paint after facing scrutiny.

The Moose Jaw review is focused on the primary logo and not the name Warriors at this time, Millar said. 

"We like our name. And we feel that the name warrior is reflective of all parts of life," Millar said. "During this pandemic, we've seen warriors on the front lines, whether it's nurses, doctors, paramedics."

Millar said he hasn't seen social media reaction to the announcement yet, as he's currently scouting for Canada's National Junior Team, acknowledged there will be people on both sides. 

"Whenever you have a strong, passionate fan base, whatever decisions you make with the hockey club, some people like it, some people don't," Millar said. 

"I think there will be fans that admire the logo and admire our tradition. At the same time, I hope they appreciate and respect the fact that we're being transparent, that we think it's the right thing to do a formal review."