APTN National News
Seventeen-year-old Nick Edge has always been a big supporter of the school spirit at Arnprior High School. That’s why when the call came out for volunteers to form a re-branding committee to change the sports team name “Arnprior Redmen,” he jumped at it.
It’s a legacy he wanted to be a part of.
“It was offensive to the Aboriginal people of Canada and it wasn’t just that,” Edge told APTN. “It didn’t relate to all the students in the school because it ends with men, and there are women in the school as well.”
According to Principal Tom Havey, it’s a name that’s been used since the 1940’s. The intent was to promote the sports teams colour.
Starting in September, the name will change to the Arnprior Rapids, something Havey’s been wanting to see for quite some time.
“With my own reading and my conversations with my own staff, both about the name itself and about the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions report,” said Harvey. “Our feeling was that it was time for us to make a change.”
That’s something that McGill University in Montréal may soon be looking at as well.
The university sent a statement to APTN and a change may be coming soon.
“The precise origin of the Redmen name at McGill is uncertain, there is a clear connection to the red and white worn by our athletes for generations, but we are also sensitive to the fact that the term “redmen” has less benign and potentially concerning connotations.”
On June 21, National Aboriginal Day, McGill’s Taskforce on Indigenous Studies and Indigenous Education will release its final report and according to the statement “it is likely that the Report will include a recommendation to consider the name of our men’s’ Varsity sports teams the Redmen.”
That’s something Lynne Courchene Allard, who is a member of Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba applauds.
She said as a mother of three young children, First Nations people are clearly targetted like no other.
“It upsets me because there’s no other group of people that would have this happening to them,” said Courchene Allard. “And no one would say anything, there would be a big massive outcry.”
When Courchene Allard and her husband John Paul Allard saw a children’s hockey team, wearing a logo resembling what the Chicago Blackhawks wear, along with the team name, Copper Cliff Redmen, they were shocked.
“We thought what sort of message is this sending to young impressionable minds to the value of First Nations people and their place in modern society,” she said. “So we made the decision to contact the team to reach out to them and see if they’d be open into maybe sort of changing the name to a less offensive, we felt and they weren’t responsive to that.”
Last December, they filed an Ontario human rights complaint against the Ministry of Education to have the ministry of education show leadership on this issue and ask school boards to implement a ban of images, which have been shown to, through research to increase stereotypes for first nations people.
That case is headed to mediation in September.
According to Allard, the complaint is gaining support. The Six Nations elected council has signed a resolution and seven other chiefs have written support.
Renowned architect Douglas Cardinal said they can add his name to the list.
“I think that we all have to stand up against this kind of discrimination and this type of belittling that can only affect our children because we have to protect our children from this kind, these kinds of attitudes,” said Cardinal.
Cardinal has filed complaints with both the federal and provincial human rights commissions.
His issue is that the use of the Cleveland Indian’s baseball club’s name and the Chief Wahoo logo be banned from use in Ontario. Cardinal wants a ban on the use of the branding of the team by Major League Baseball and Rogers Communications, which owns the Rogers Centre and the Toronto Blue Jays, and broadcasts Blue Jays games.
“I felt that in a sense First Nations have to deal with racism every day and its always in your face and so, why should it be in the face of everybody and myself when I’m trying to watch a game like that,” he said.
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario said it will hear the complaint, but in its decision, released last week, the tribunal said it would consider deferring any hearing while it waits to see what will happen with a similar complaint at the federal level with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.