The school is changing the name after receiving calls from Indingeous communities saying the name was discriminatory.
McGill University varsity men's sports teams will no longer be called the Redmen, the school announced on Friday.
According to McGill, the university—which is located in Montreal—decided to change the Redmen name after calls from Indigenous students, faculty and staff saying the name was discriminatory. Principal and vice-chancellor Suzanne Fortier announced the decision by email to all students Friday morning. The campaign to change the name started in 2017.
"Today, 'Redmen' is widely acknowledged as an offensive term for Indigenous peoples, as evidenced by major English dictionaries," Fortier said in a statement. "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. Inclusion and respect are at the core of our University’s principles and values; pejoratives run contrary to who we are as a community."
McGill's sports teams have been known as the Redmen since the late 1920s. According to the university, the name stemmed from colors worn by the teams, but indigenous symbols, connotations and unofficial nicknames came to be associated with McGill athletics.
In October 2018, students held an on-campus demonstration and started an online petition that accumulated more than 10,000 signatures in support of the name change.
"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. They feel disrespected and unconsidered," Fortier said. "They feel conflicted over their rightful pride in being Indigenous people, and their pride in being McGill students. This tension is even stronger for Indigenous student-athletes."
According to Fortier, the men's varsity teams will be known as the McGill teams for the 2019-20 athletic season. The University will announce a new name in time for the 2020-21 season.