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

Kimberley Nordic Club to host first Nordic Fest this Sunday

The Kimberley Nordic Club is one of the fastest growing in the… Continue reading

Kootenay-Columbia MP urges end to ‘illegal roadblocks’ in solidarity with pipeline dispute

Rob Morrison says protestors across Canada need to remove roadblocks on roads, rail lines

Kimberley Fire Department urges residents to install carbon monoxide alarms

The Kimberley Fire Department has been issuing warnings on social media about… Continue reading

Steam room at Kimberley Aquatic Centre reopens

Room was closed for months for repair

Our Home video: a prophetic snapshot of Kimberley in 1984

Video narrated by Councillor McBain highlights the importance of transition from mining to tourism

WATCH: The week in review

WATCH: Click the subhead to read the full story Two Kimberley residents… Continue reading

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sex crimes in landmark #MeToo trial

The cases against the Hollywood mogul started the #MeToo movement

CRA puts focus on paper returns as tax-filing season opens

The federal tax collector expects to handle about two million paper returns this calendar year out of roughly 26 million filings

Teck withdraws application for Frontier mine, citing discourse over climate change

The Vancouver-based company said it will take a $1.13-billion writedown on the Frontier project in Alberta

B.C. VIEWS: Pipeline dispute highlights need for clarity

As the B.C. treaty process grinds on, uncertainty remains

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Most Read