A Canadian university is dropping the name of its men’s sports teams — “the Redmen” — amid criticism that it is offensive and discriminatory.
McGill University principal and vice chancellor Suzanne Fortier announced Friday that the university will refer to its men’s teams as “the McGill teams” during the 2019-20 academic year while deciding on a new name. (The school’s women’s teams are called “the Martlets.”)
“McGill did not adopt the Redmen name as a reference to North American Indigenous peoples,” Fortier wrote in a letter to members of the campus community. “(But) today, ‘Redmen’ is widely acknowledged as an offensive term for Indigenous peoples, as evidenced by major English dictionaries.
“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. Intention, however benign, does not negate prejudicial effect.”
McGill, which is located in Montreal, had used the “Redmen” nickname for nearly a century. According to the school’s website, it was first used in the 1920s a reference to the color of the McGill teams’ jerseys, but it later took on a connotation related to indigenous people; The university at one point adopted a logo “depicting a native person wearing a headdress.”
Then, in 1992, McGill decided to stop using the logo but retain the “Redmen” name.
Another round of criticism in recent years led Fortier and the university’s leadership to re-examine the issue.
The move to drop the “Redmen” name comes as several other sports teams have faced similar criticism over the past decade. The Cleveland Indians recently moved to remove the controversial Chief Wahoo logo from their jerseys, while the Washington Redskins have faced ongoing pressure to change their team name.
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