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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Qualicum Beach man stages concerts for charity out of his garage

Larry MacDougall says reception from neighbours has been heartening

Parksville’s ‘Support Local’ parade celebrates businesses

Approximately 30 vehicles turn out for event

COVID-19: Parksville bowling lanes open, but booking required

Owner implements safety measures to protect staff, bowlers

RDN says water in French Creek still potable despite levels of iron, manganese

Strategy to improve water quality being established

COVID-19: City of Parksville to open offices on June 1

Health and safety restrictions will be in place

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Stolen gargoyle returns to its perch on central Vancouver Island yard

Petey, a concrete gargoyle statue, was returned by Nanaimo RCMP after being found by city crew

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

B.C. teacher reprimanded for sharing homophobic and sexist memes, making racist comments

Klaus Hardy Breslauer was accused of making a laundry list of concerning decisions as a science teacher

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

Most Read