INNISFAIL, Alta. — A men's baseball team in central Alberta is changing its name from "Indians'' to "Trappers'' after years of online pressure and accusations of racism.
Team manager Desmond Bouteiller, who played for the Innisfail Indians, says he and his teammates used to wear their uniforms with pride, feeling they were honouring a group of people, not slandering them.
But Bouteiller says that his thoughts on the matter were later challenged.
He says in a blog post that the most memorable incident was when the Senior AA team stopped for lunch in Lloydminster and ended up playing in a road hockey tournament with teams of indigenous descent.
“They really should be praised, especially since they purchased all new hats just a couple of years ago and rely on a very minimal budget.”
Bouteiller says he and his teammates paused when asked what their team name was.
He says there was pressure every year on Facebook to change the name, so the team's management decided that in 2017, the team would play in the Parkland Baseball League as the Trappers.
"They really should be praised, especially since they purchased all new hats just a couple of years ago and rely on a very minimal budget,'' Bouteiller said in an interview, adding the team is raising money to help purchase new uniforms.
"It got to the point where our players were being called 'racist' even though they had nothing to do with it.''
Honour and court injunctions
Indigenous-themed sports team names have come under fire in recent years.
The issue resurfaced in Canada in October when the Toronto Blue Jays took on Cleveland in the American League Championship Series. An Ontario-based group unsuccessfully sought a court injunction to prevent Cleveland from using its name and logo during games played in Toronto.
Bouteiller said the team decided on Trappers in part to honour Innisfail's early history.
According to the Innisfail and District Historical Society, explorer and fur trader Anthony Henday likely first saw the Rockies from a hill east or northeast of Innisfail.