This story first appeared on VICE Quebec.
McGill University has announced that their 'Redmen' moniker will be dropped. The men's sports teams at McGill University have worn it for over 100 years.
The term was considered racist towards Indigenous people by many within the student community. In November 2018, students voted 79% in favour of changing the name. University administration then launched a working group to study the issue.
"McGill did not adopt the Redmen name as a reference to North American Indigenous Peoples," wrote university principal and vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier. “However, the name has been associated with Indigenous Peoples at different points in our history. 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.”
Tomas Jirousek, the student affairs commissioner for the student association, has been leading the campaign to change the name for months.
"I am deeply happy with this decision," he told VICE by phone.
"It's amazing, I'm on the verge of tears," he added. "It has been an intense and exhausting adventure, it's been almost 15 months since we started fighting for this change. The university had no choice but to change that racist name, and I'm glad the principal listened to the student uprising."
The new name for McGill's men's sports teams will be announced in the spring of 2020. Until then, the men's university teams will simply be called McGill.
"Any other name or no name will always be better than a racist name," said student athlete Tomas Jirousek. "The women's sports teams are called Martlets , the men's teams could quite adopt this name too."
"I am an Indigenous athlete myself, I consider the McGill Rowing Team to be my family and I can not imagine my life without them," Jirousek said. "From now on, Aboriginal students will feel welcome to McGill, and that is a legacy to which I am extremely proud to have been able to participate. "
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