McGill University Retires Redmen Name After Students Decry Racist Connotations

After Postponing in January, McGill Releases Decision

  • After months of pushback, McGill has come to a decision to change the name of it’s men’s varsity teams. Photo Elaine Genest

Students’ cries declaring McGill’s men’s varsity sports team name, the Redmen, to be discriminatory against Indigenous people have been heard.

On Friday morning, McGill University’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier announced that the name is being retired immediately.

Teams will now be recognized as the “McGill teams,’’ though the university “will announce a new name in time for the 2020-2021 season,” they said in an email sent to all McGill students.

Since last fall, students have been calling for the university to change the Redmen name, as McGill has a history of using derogatory slurs against Indigenous people to label their teams. Many students felt the name was racist and exclusive.

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Though the name Redmen was first used to refer to the colours the team wore, McGill teams have adopted labels such as “Squaw”— a term which holds oppressive connotations for Indigenous women—and “Indians” as nicknames, and even had headdresses stamped on their jerseys and football helmets in the 1980s.

Fortier recognized that “Intention, however benign, does not negate prejudicial effect. Inclusion and respect are at the core of our University’s principles and values; pejoratives run contrary to who we are as a community.”

“I have learned about the true depths of the pain caused by the Redmen name. I have heard from Indigenous students at McGill who feel alienated by the name,” she said. “They feel disrespected and unconsidered. They feel conflicted over their rightful pride in being Indigenous people, and their pride in being McGill students.”

This article will be updated

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