The Indigenous-led movement to Change the Name: A short recap of the last two years

On November 17th, McGill announced the new name of the Men’s Varsity Team: the Redbirds. This comes after many years and generations of Indigenous students who fought for the name change. Below is a very abridged history of the recent history of the name change:

Following the large protest in 2018, led by members of the Indigenous community, students continued to push for change through tabling and entering classrooms to further explain McGill’s history with mascots and names. These actions were to further remind other students to vote for the name change during the SSMU referendum. Although the motion did pass within the Student Union, students did not hear a formal announcement by McGill and were continually being handed insults, rude comments and at times, being yelled at by senior staff.

Following the lack of communication by the University, students led another campaign to stop the renewal of the Fee to Improve Athletics – during a Board of Governors meeting, students dropped a large banner off Leacock, demanding that Athletics needs to change their name before improving a facility meant for all students.

It was only announced in April 2019 that the name would change, months after being silent. Following the announcement, male Indigenous athletes were invited to join discussions on the name change as well as other students and staff within Athletics. However, Athletics has failed to discuss how Indigenous athletes can be supported in their team sports and much more work needs to be done within Athletics to make it a welcoming space.

 

 

Students Call for More Support across Campus

In a recent article from the Bull and Bear, a student-led newspaper on campus, Indigenous students call for more support across campus. As the recent announcement of the Men’s Teamname being changed to Redbird, a sense of closure was finally brought to students who fought for the name to be changed.

In the article, Indigenous students, alumni, and faculty discuss the lack of support systems currently in place and push for more Indigenous faculty and staff. One student shared her experience at the Wellness Hub, stating that multiple stereotypes were being perpetrated on her by doctors and psychiatrists while trying to seek help.

As well, one Indigenous graduate noted that McGill is only beginning to address these issues and that more work needs to be done. As the Indigenous student population is very small, erasure and isolation from student services on campus occur more often within the community.

You can read the full article here.

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