Etobicoke’s coat of arms doesn’t reflect city’s values, staff find
The plan to remove the coat of arms for the former City of Etobicoke from the local civic centre will move ahead, after city staff delivered a report Tuesday that confirmed it “does not reflect its values of reconciliation and inclusion.”
The coat of arms has been the subject of numerous complaints, since as far back as 2017. Created in 1977, the symbol for the former City of Etobicoke depicts an Indigenous man on the left and explorer Étienne Brûlé on the right. Underneath the Indigenous man is the word “Tradition” and under the explorer is “Progress.”
The concerns raised about the coat of arms “relate to the use of stereotypical and offensive Indigenous imagery and language,” said the report, which went on to say that, in consultation with the Human Rights Office and Indigenous Affairs Office, it was determined the coat of arms should be removed.
“It’s that same old stereotypical thinking: ‘The First Nations had their traditions … they were backward, and we’re the ones that showed them progress.’ And we know that’s not true,” Chief Stacey LaForme, of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, told the Star in November.
The report came at the request of Coun. Stephen Holyday, who represents Etobicoke Centre. He said he didn’t believe the words beneath were tied to the figures above, and that the emblem is an important symbol to Etobicoke.
At council’s executive committee meeting on Tuesday, Holyday pointed out that the Etobicoke coat of arms is in a number of places. He then displayed several other coats of arms from across Canada, which also depict Indigenous people.
“Here you have the former municipality in the City of Toronto, that actually has an Ojibwe name in its title, trying to honour some of the history of the land in its coat of arms, and here we are putting it away,” said Holyday in remarks at the meeting. “I just think it’s bigger than the small report that’s here, and decisions like this belong with council and not staff.”
Deputy Mayor Amber Morley, who represents EtobicokeLakeshore, said she was proud of staff for doing this work and moving forward with the removal of the symbol.
“It is triggering for many individuals who have experienced the harmful, painful, violent and oppressive history,” said Morley.
It’s not known when city staff will remove the coat of arms from the Etobicoke Civic Centre.
Toronto Star Newspapers Limited