Dear Members of the McGill Community,
Like many of you, I am aware of calls within the McGill community, and at times expressed in outside media, to change the name of our men’s varsity team, the Redmen. Although the team’s name originated as a reference to the colour they wear, I recognize and am sensitive to the feelings expressed by Indigenous staff and students at McGill, as well as by Indigenous communities, as a result of the unfortunate, pejorative association of the word ‘Redmen’ to Indigenous peoples—an association that was regrettably further expressed in team logos used decades ago.
I am also aware of, and acknowledge, the affinity that many of our community members feel towards the Redmen name and to our University’s athletic tradition. McGill’s student athletes, past and present, have brought significant pride and honour to our University for generations.
I understand the frustration and impatience of those members of the community who would have liked a decision to be made by now, especially since the Final Report of my Task Force on Indigenous Studies and Indigenous Education included a call to begin a process of consultation towards renaming the men’s varsity teams as part of the University’s commitment to reconciliation.
A decision with respect to renaming anything within an institution whose history is as long as ours is significant. It must be undertaken with diligence, openness, and sensitivity to the perspectives of all concerned. In this particular instance, any decision about the Redmen name must emerge from a process that engages all relevant stakeholders in conversation, drawing us together while building on a sense of shared community and dedication to McGill University.
Such a process will be guided by the final report of the Working Group on Principles of Commemoration and Renaming (co-chaired by Deans Anja Geitmann and Robert Leckey). The Working Group has, over the past ten months, been working to develop a set of principles that will guide the University’s decisions on any future commemorative or renaming initiative. To that end, it has engaged in broad and open consultation across our community.
The Working Group will submit its Final Report in December. We will rely on the principles that the Report articulates to guide our decision about the Redman name, as well as other issues of renaming or commemoration that may arise, in a principled, equitable, and inclusive manner.
Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)