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City apologizes for naming bird mascot Thunder

Thunder Bay municipal officials say they will change the mascot's name after receiving criticism for their original choice after concerns arose that the name linked it too closely to the sacred Indigenous Thunderbird.
Thunder Bay City Hall

THUNDER BAY -- The City of Thunder Bay has issued an apology for choosing a mascot whose name some said suggested it was a sacred Indigenous Thunderbird.

"We want to apologize for the hurt caused by launching the 50th anniversary mascot with no explanation of the meaning or process," city officials posted to the municipality's website on Saturday evening.

"As part of the City of Thunder Bay’s 50th Anniversary campaign in 2020, the committee approved the creation of a City mascot at a cost of $5,000. A general bird character was selected by the committee for the mascot. We shared the creative concept of the mascot in late 2019 with the City’s Elder’s Council and Chief Peter Collins of Fort William First Nation. None raised issues with the concept."

In traditional Indigenous culture, the Thunderbird is a supernatural being of power and strength, often seen depicted in art, songs and stories.

The bird was named Thunder, reflecting the city's name, but drew criticism and will be renamed.

"In light of the recent comparisons of the mascot to a Thunderbird, and recognizing that the Thunderbird is sacred in certain Indigenous peoples' history and culture, the committee will select a new name for the mascot and make revisions to the creative campaign," city officials said.

"We will be sure to involve the community in the renaming"

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith has been the editor of Thunder Bay Source for 17 years and has served a similar role with since 2009. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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