Calgary Dinos’ David Kapinga, left, shoots as McGill Redmen’s Francois Bourque defends during the first half of semifinal action in the USports men’s basketball national championship in Halifax on Saturday, March 10, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese)

McGill drops Redmen name, citing pain caused to Indigenous students

‘Today, “Redmen” is widely acknowledged as an offensive term for Indigenous peoples’

McGill University has dropped the Redmen name for its sports teams.

Principal Suzanne Fortier said in a statement Friday that the Redmen name has caused pain and alienation for Indigenous students at the university.

READ MORE: McGill students vote overwhelmingly to change Redmen team nickname

Even though the name was not initially adopted as a reference to Indigenous peoples, that association was made in the 1950s when men’s and women’s teams came to be nicknamed the “Indians” and “Squaws.” Some teams later adopted a logo with an Indigenous man wearing a headdress.

“Today, ‘Redmen’ is widely acknowledged as an offensive term for Indigenous peoples, as evidenced by major English dictionaries,” Fortier said. “While this derogatory meaning of the word does not reflect the beliefs of generations of McGill athletes who have proudly competed wearing the university’s colours, we cannot ignore this contemporary understanding.”

She said the name “is not one the university would choose today, and it is not one that McGill should carry forward.”

The university released a working group report in December that revealed deep divisions between students and alumni who defend the nearly century-old name and those who find it offensive.

One unnamed Indigenous student was quoted saying that seeing Redmen jerseys in the gym “felt like a dagger” and that being called a “Redman” made him sick, while another told the group she didn’t feel accepted in the university and “felt like a ghost.”

On the other side was a group of alumni who reported feeling such strong attachment to the Redmen name that they said they would never again donate to McGill, would discourage their children from applying to the school and would “consider McGill dead to (them),” if the name were dropped.

“I have learned about the true depths of the pain caused by the Redmen name,” Fortier said. “I have heard from Indigenous students at McGill who feel alienated by the name. They feel disrespected and unconsidered. They feel conflicted over their rightful pride in being Indigenous people, and their pride in being McGill students.”

She said a committee will be formed to choose a new name in time for the 2020-21 season. For 2019-20, the men’s varsity teams will be known simply as the McGill teams, she said. The women’s teams are called the Martlets.

The Redmen name, originally written as Red Men, dates back to the 1920s. The school has said it was a tribute to the team’s red uniforms and possibly a nod to university founder James McGill’s Celtic origins.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

RDCK asks province for more powers to regulate private land logging

‘If the province won’t step up, we will have to’

Women, children escaping domestic violence have few options in Nelson

The 11th annual Report Card on Homelessness shows a need for women’s housing

L.V. Rogers awards its top athletes

The high school honoured its athletes last week

Logging protester arrested near Balfour

Jessica Ogden remains in custody until a hearing date is set

VIDEO: Tributes flow on 10th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death

Jackson received a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol on June 25, 2009. He died at age 50

40 cats, kittens surrendered in apparent animal hoarding at Vancouver home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

Thieves steal two $40K chairs featuring gold serpents from Vancouver furniture store

Chairs believed to be the only two of its kind in Canada, police said

Poll: Rising gas prices force B.C. residents rethink summer road trips

63 per cent of respondents reported gas prices are impacting their day-to-day finances

PHOTO: Moose cow and calf relax in Williams Lake flower garden

The homeowners got a surprise when they checked their most recent surveillance footage

Two in hospital after plane crashes in Okanagan Lake

RCMP say wheels left down caused landing plane to overturn on lake

The world’s Indigenous speakers gather in B.C.’s capital to revitalize languages

Organizers estimate about 1,000 delegates from 20 countries will be at the conference

Companies need clearer rules on workplace relationships, study suggests

One-third of Canadians have been in love at work, and half say no policy on the matter exists

Most Read