McGill Athletics Takes a Step in the Right Direction

By Brandon Elson
Posted on May 9, 2019

Recently, McGill University chose to no longer have their sports team name be the “Redmen” despite the nickname’s historic status. This decision was based on the offensive cultural associations that this name, as Redmen had been consistently used in team imagery to evoke images of Indigenous individuals. Despite that not being the name’s original intent, the term continued to adopt these offensive associations.

Actions such as these are a key aspect of reconciliation, which is described as two parties coming together to seek truth, forgiveness, justice, love, and reparation. History has shown an intense mistreatment of Indigenous people by Caucasian European settlers, causing serious intergenerational trauma that has held a lasting impact. Currently, Indigenous people have a 62.5% unemployment rate, 5 to 6x higher youth suicide rate, and are 2x more likely to experience death by stroke. 

McGill choosing to eliminate the term Redmen from their university moniker is another small but important step to repairing the damage that has been caused by North America’s past. 

They will no longer be called the McGill Redmen because the term Redmen just like the term Redskin are very offensive towards indigenous individuals as it is revolved around blood. This article is just one of many examples of sport teams that have been forced to change a name or a logo in sport because the names are seen as racist groups of Indigenous individuals.

You also must need to know about the barriers to sport participation which are; Accessibility/Isolation, Affordability, Lack of Opportunity, Lack of Role Models and Racism.

Indigenous individuals do not feel welcome outside of their reserves and do not have the resources that Non-Indigenous individuals have such as access to facilities in range, access to equipment and access to coaching. A lot of the Indigenous individuals do not want to leave their reserves or do not have the transportation to participate in sport, even if they get the transportation there is always a big problem with racism towards them. Finally there are role models for these indigenous individuals however, you must know that there are not a lot of them but an individual such as Jordin Tootoo who has become very successful and is giving back to Indigenous individuals would be some one to make sure you always bring up to the individuals you are teaching.

Finally, you need to be that difference maker. You need to be able to make all Indigenous individuals feel welcome in sport and know that youth suicide is very high. They need a place to play sport, feel welcome, have fun and have that high level sport opportunity to represent Canada in the olympics.