“We the North” As the Dispossession of Indigenous Identity and a Slogan of Canada’s Enduring Colonial Legacy


  • Daniel W. Dylan LLM, LLB, JD, BA (Hons), Assistant Professor, Bora Laskin Faculty of Law.




As the only Canadian team in the professional United States’ National Basketball Association, the Toronto Raptors adopted the slogan “We the North.” The new slogan is designed to invoke historical myths and narratives of what or who Canada is. The slogan emblematically assumes, as a metanarrative, the mythologized national identity of Canada as distinctly “northern,” revealing itself to be a reproduction of banal nationalism in Canada in the process. It is, however, more than that: it is the appropriation of an imagined northern Canadian, and specifically Inuit or authentic northern (indigenous) identity. Something as seemingly innocuous and banal as a Canadian sports team’s slogan can manifest the enduring colonial legacy of Canada. Banal nationalism in Canada is anything but benign, and in the case of the Raptor’s highly appropriative slogan, dispossessive of Inuit identity and an enduring symbol of Canada’s colonial legacy. In the process of attempting to encapsulate the imagined Canadian national identity and fashion it into a metanarrative, the slogan appropriates the uniqueness that makes northerners and northern indigenous peoples what they are, northerners, and dispossesses them of facets of their identity.