McGill drops ‘Redmen’ nickname over racial concerns

McGill University is dropping the “Redmen” name for its men’s sports teams, including football, the school announced on Friday.

For 2019-20, the teams will be known simply as the McGill teams and a committee will be formed to choose a new name in time for the 2020-21 season. The women’s teams are called the Martlets.

The name was not adopted as a reference to Indigenous peoples but has developed that association at times during the school’s history.

“Today, ‘Redmen’ is widely acknowledged as an offensive term for Indigenous peoples, as evidenced by major English dictionaries,” McGill principal and vice-chancellor 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.”

McGill alumni in the CFL include Bombers LB Jesse Briggs, Eskimos offensive lineman Qadr Spooner and B.C. Lions receiver Shaquille Johnson. NFL offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, now also a doctor, played for the school.

Last July the Edmonton Eskimos decided not to change the team’s name after consulting stakeholders in Inuit communities in the Northwest Territories.

Some Inuit leaders say the term Eskimo, which means “eaters of raw meat,” is derogatory and was given to their people by others. They say it’s a relic from days when northern Indigenous people had no control over their fate or even the name by which they were known.

The McGill decision comes after a report was released in December that showed deep divisions between students and alumni who defended the traditional name and those who found it offensive.

Signs and merchandise with the Redmen name will be removed from campus by next fall.

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