Ottawa TomaHawks changing team name less than 24 hours after announcing it
The Ottawa TomaHawks were introduced as the newest member of the National Basketball League on Tuesday, with a new name and logo being unveiled for the city. Before the day was over, the team had already decided a name change was in order.
According to CBC News, the name TomaHawks was met with public outcry from Ottawa’s aboriginal community for being a racist term. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said he warned the team about its name and advised them to consult with the First Nations community before making the announcement.
“Obviously they did not do the kind of consultation that they should have done, and they certainly spoke with me and spoke with my office before the launch, and I strongly suggested that they have proper consultations with First Nations, and particularly the Algonquins of Ontario,” Watson explained.
Team president Gus Takkale said he is committed to making sure fans know he wants the team to respect the community it represents.
“Yes, we are changing the name,” he said. “At the end of the day, we want to do the right thing for our community. We don’t want to connect our brand like that.”
Watson said he opted not to attend the team’s introductory news conference on Tuesday because he was not supportive of the name that had been chosen. Ian Campeau, an aboriginal Canadian and a DJ with local group A Tribe Called Red, blasted the team for undermining the efforts of the community over the past several decades.
“It sets Ottawa back almost 30 years, when the NCAA is on its way to remove names like this,” Campeau said. “Here we are starting new teams with names like TomaHawk, it’s … it’s backwards.”
Takkale defended himself by saying the name TomaHawks was intended to refer to a tomahawk slam dunk and was in no way meant to offend the aboriginal community. Had he paid closer attention to similar issues across North America like this popular NFL topic of discussion, he could have avoided the embarrassment of unveiling the team name and nixing it less than 24 hours later.