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

Revenue Canada, RCMP don’t accept Bitcoin: police

RCMP issue Bitcoin warning posters

Mat program not quite ready to open its doors

Committee hopes to bring people out from the cold with overnight shelter program

Ponoka County writes off quarter of a million in taxes

Bankrupt energy companies hitting county financially

Rebels fight back from 3-1 Raider lead to win 4-3 in shootout

Two goals by Zak Smith key to Rebels comeback

‘Extensive’ work planned at Big Bar landslide ahead of salmon, steelhead migration

Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan visited the site of the slide from June

Royal deal clears way for Harry, Meghan part-time Canada move: experts

Keith Roy of the Monarchist League of Canada said the deal is exactly what Harry and Meghan asked for

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

RCMP Major Crimes Unit lays charges in Stettler death

Nicholas Climb Johnson, 32, of Stettler is charged with second degree murder in the death of his father

‘Manny’s Motel’ badly damaged by fire Jan. 15

Police say 40 Ave. closed due to fire, use alternate route

Most Read