McGill Athletics men’s teams renamed the Redbirds

Announcement comes after years of outrage over anti-Indigenous name

  • Concordia’s games against McGill will be the Battle of the Birds and the Bees from now on. Photo File Elisa Barbier

McGill University announced Tuesday that the men’s varsity teams will be renamed the Redbirds. The decision comes over a year after McGill decided to drop the controversial “Redmen” name following decades of pressure from Indigenous groups and students and non-Indigenous allies to change the name, a racial slur.

The original name was chosen to reflect school founder James McGill’s heritage and the colour worn by players, but the school adopted Indigenous imagery and iconography in the 1950s. Images depicted Indigenous people were commonly seen as part of McGill’s football and hockey uniforms in the 1980s and early 1990s until a student-led campaign demanded an end to the use of these logos.

Over the last three years, the #ChangeTheName campaign led by former McGill student Tomas Jirousek advocated for an end to the “Redmen” name and the Indigenous stereotypes that it encouraged.

The school finally dropped the name in April 2019.

“This name [was] chosen with the aim of paying homage to [McGill] Athletics and Recreation’s tradition and history while simultaneously uniting our community,” said deputy provost Fabrice Labeau in a statement on McGill’s website.

The new name completes McGill Athletics’ bird theme, as women’s varsity teams have been known as the Martlets since 1976.

“Once COVID-19 restrictions allow, we look forward to properly celebrating this new era of McGill men’s varsity sports with the entire community,” said Labeau.

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