Mi’kmaw man urges N.S. golf club to remove Indigenous imagery from logo

A Mi’kmaw man is calling on a Cape Breton golf club to change its century-old logo, saying it’s disrespectful to Indigenous people.

The logo for the Lingan Golf Club in Sydney depicts an Indigenous person wearing a headdress superimposed over a map of Cape Breton.

“It kind of left a sour note in my mouth,” said Bryson Syliboy, who is from Sipekne’katik First Nation but now lives in Port Hawkesbury, N.S.

TV ads showing the logo caught his attention in recent months.

“The headdress that they’re depicting is not even a traditional Mi’kmaw headdress,” he said.

“They’re not honouring us, they’re not using our image properly. And it just reaffirms stereotypes.”

Syliboy tweeted his disapproval this week, urging his more than 2,700 followers to contact the golf club and express their disappointment.

“So fed up with companies using native mascots,” he tweeted along with the hashtag #notyourmascot.

The Lingan Golf Club describes itself on its website as one of the oldest golf clubs in Canada “with a strong history and tradition.”

Moe Brygidyr, club president, said the logo is 110 years old and the club means no disrespect by using it.

“The logo itself is not a caricature,” he said. “But rather is a symbol of a chief wearing the proper regalia and is a symbol of leadership.” 

The Lingan Golf Club in Sydney. (Facebook)

Benita Bunjun, an assistant professor at St. Mary’s University in the department of social justice and community studies, noted the use of logos that may offend isn’t unusual.

“It’s very common to have these inappropriate images, especially associated with sports, all over North America,” said Bunjun.

“Maybe today it can be said that it’s seen as leadership, but certainly 110 years ago, Indigenous people’s knowledges, ways of living, their histories, were being erased.”  

Bunjun said the logo should be removed.

“At the end of the day, we’re in 2019. This is not appropriate.”

Brygidyr said no one else has ever complained about the logo. He said many of the club’s members are Indigenous and the golf club has hosted the Mi’kmaw Summer Games in the past.

However, he said the board will consider the request to change the logo at its next meeting in May.

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