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McGill students vote overwhelmingly for change to Redmen team nickname

Last Updated Nov 13, 2018 at 10:20 am EDT

Carleton Ravens' Mitch Wood, left, looks to pass before going out of bounds in front of McGill Redmen's Noah Daoust, centre, and Dele Ogundokun in the bronze medal game of the U Sports men's basketball national championship in Halifax on Sunday, March 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

MONTREAL – Students at McGill University have voted by a large majority in favour of changing the Redmen nickname for the school’s sports teams.

The 79 per cent vote in favour of the change follows a campaign by Indigenous students to shed the name, which they say is derogatory.

The Redmen name dates back to the 1920s. The school says it is a tribute to the team’s red uniforms and possibly a nod to university founder James McGill’s Celtic origins.

But in the 1950s, McGill’s men’s and women’s teams were colloquially referred to as the “Indians” or the “Squaws.” In the 1980s, several McGill teams used a stylized logo with an Indigenous man wearing a headdress.

Voting in the referendum, conducted by McGill’s student union, ended yesterday. Twenty-eight per cent of eligible students cast ballots.

The vote is non-binding, and student union spokespeople say they will continue to pressure the administration to end behaviour they call racist and oppressive.