The Centre Wellington Minor Lacrosse Association will soon have a different team name and logo.
Since 2010, when the Elora and Fergus minor lacrosse associations emerged, a player vote was taken and Mohawks was the team name selected. According to CWMLA president Nathan Joyes, the name Mohawks was to honor and celebrate the people who invented the game of lacrosse.
“There is so much tradition and ties to the Indigenous communities and so much linkage to the sport,” Joyes said. “It’s a part of their religion and as you would probably notice with a lot of lacrosse associations, over time we have tried to attribute them and pay homage to them for allowing us to play their sport by naming teams after them.”
Following years of being the Centre Wellington Mohawks and having a Native American Mohawk Indian head as a logo, Joyes is ready to turn the page as negotiations started in November 2019 to change the team name and logo. In defending the team name Mohawk, Joyes stresses that there is no comparison in its use compared to say in football with the Washington Redskins or in baseball with the Cleveland Indians. For years the team explained to critics that the team name and logo served as a tribute to the Indigenous people who introduced lacrosse. However, it became frustrating for the team who had to constantly explain this to people who questioned their team name and logo.
“We would have one person come up and say they understood and then the next person would say the exact same thing as the last person, but unfortunately they didn’t hear our explanation so we would have to explain ourselves again,” Joyes said.
Several months ago, with the rise of Black Lives Matter movement and violent events such as the tragic death of George Floyd, the complaints about the Mohawks name and logo have intensified.
“People have been pressuring us and with the extra movement and such we felt it was necessary to move forward,” Joyes said.
Joyes actually made up his mind a year ago to change the name but didn’t make it public until Monday, January 4 on the association’s website.
“The reason why it took so long for the press release to come out is because with changing of the name and logo and the brand comes a significant cost,” Joyes said. “We have been trying to secure those funds over the last year so we don’t have to pass those on to our members.”
The Centre Wellington Minor Lacrosse Association made it a priority to contact the Six Nations community and Seneca New York to stress that they still will be honored and paid homage as founders of lacrosse.
“For me that’s something that needs to stick around,” Joyes said. “There’s so much heritage there we can’t just whitewash it and lose it.”
Starting in early February, the CWMLA are asking people to let them know through their website suggestions for a new team name and logo idea. It won’t be until spring 2021 when the logo and Mohawks team name change.
“Some people want to keep the Mohawks as the name, some people want to call ourselves the hawks, and the thistles has come up a few times as well,” Joyes said.