Riverview High School in Coxheath, N.S., is dropping the Redmen name from its hockey program in an effort to be more culturally respectful.
The name was chosen almost 50 years ago because of the colour of the team’s jersey and candy cane socks, and did not refer to Indigenous people, said an official with the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Centre for Education (CBVRCE).
At that time, Indigenous community leaders were consulted and approved the name.
But Barrie Bernard, co-ordinator of Mi’kmaw services with CBVRCE, said the time has come for change.
“As the years progress and people become more aware of First Nation cultures and traditions, it becomes pretty obvious that the Redmen name can become offensive in some terms,” he said.
“So, instead of being in that limelight of having a negative name, or a name that could be negative, they just want to change it so that the school has something that they can wear with pride and become more unified.”
The goal will be to come up with one name for all of Riverview’s sports teams, as is done at other schools.
The rebranding process will get underway in the fall and involve consultation with students.
Grade 12 student Mitchell Doucette wasn’t sure how he felt about the decision Wednesday.
“When my mom told me this morning, I was kind of surprised because … I’ve never thought anything of it … I just thought Redmen, the school colours were red. That’s all I thought,” he said.
‘It can be offensive’
Julia Carrol, also in Grade 12, said it will be a shock for the school and community.
“When you really think about it, I guess that it can be offensive in some ways, so I think that we want to do everything that we can to minimize that,” she said.
The Redmen name may still be in play for the next school year.
“We’re looking at about at least two or three years until we get a complete changeover to a new brand that’ll unify the school,” said Bernard.
Discussions about the rebranding have been going on for some time, he said, but they were sped up earlier this year when Montreal’s McGill University decided to drop the name Redmen from its men’s varsity sports teams.