“The ‘R*dmen’ Name is Not the End”

Pro-name Change De­mon­stra­tors Gather in Front of Ad­min Build­ing

The McGill Daily - - News - Ece Özer The Mcgill Daily

On Oc­to­ber 31, un­der the pour­ing rain, hun­dreds of stu­dents gath­ered at Com­mu­nity Square to take part in the #Changeth­ename cam­paign. The “R*dmen” name, which is rooted in the stereo-typ­i­cal­ized and his­tor­i­cally racial­ized image of In­dige­nous peo­ples, cur­rently des­ig­nates all the Mcgill men’s var­sity teams.

Slo­gans shouted in the demon­stra­tion in­clude “Change the name to­day” and “Hey hey, ho ho, the R*dmen name has got to go”. The demon­stra­tion started with an In­dige­nous men’s drum­ming cir­cle, which in­cluded Mcgill stu­dents. Stu­dents held a mul­ti­tude of posters sup­port­ing the cause. Some said, “Not Your R*dmen,” and one pro­claimed, “In­tent Does Not Erase Im­pact.”

To­mas Jirousek, the leader of the #Changeth­ename cam­paign, the SSMU In­dige­nous Af­fairs Com­mis­sioner, and an In­dige­nous var­sity rower, led the demon­stra­tion. Jirousek wel­comed ev­ery­one to the demon­stra­tion, then gave the stage to Nakuset, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the Na­tive Women’s Shel­ter of Mon­treal. “You don’t un­der­stand how hard it is to speak about our in­jus­tices be­cause they are al­ways ig­nored,” she said, “the strug­gles we go through are not what this univer­sity really wants to have as a team name, [...] we are strug­gling and you are wear­ing our name like it’s some kind of badge and it doesn’t be­long to you.”

Ella Martin­dale, co- chair of the In­dige­nous Stu­dents Al­liance (ISA), from the Cowichan na­tion in Bri­tish Columbia, de­scribed how the “R*dmen” name af­fects her life: “it con­nects to iden­tity. Who am I? What am I do­ing here? Do I really be­long here at Mcgill?”

The Black Stu­dents’ Net­work ( BSN) of Mcgill spoke in sol­i­dar­ity with #Changeth­ename demon­stra­tion. Ab­del Dicko, VP Po­lit­i­cal Co­or­di­na­tor of BSN, stated “we, the BSN, firmly be­lieve that the ‘R*dmen’ name and the very sig­nif­i­cant weight it car­ries does not have its place at this univer­sity. Just like any other un­am­bigu­ously deroga­tory racial slur, the ‘R*dmen’ name has been harm­ful and this needs to stop im­me­di­ately.” Joshua Archibald, a var­sity ath­lete on Mcgill’s foot­ball team, raised his voice on the is­sue, “First Na­tions are pa­tron­ized by be­ing re­ferred as ‘R*dmen.’ By chang­ing the name we will send an im­por­tant mes­sage that they are wel­comed, in­cluded, and val­ued. […] With my sup­port and along with the sup­port of many stu­dent ath­letes, I think it is time for a change.”

Jirousek in­vited ev­ery­one to sign the on­line pe­ti­tion on change.org and the open let­ter urg­ing the univer­sity to change the name. As of Novem­ber 1, the on­line pe­ti­tion has al­ready reached 9,000 sig­na­tures. Jirousek also strongly en­cour­aged ev­ery stu­dent to vote “Yes” on chang­ing the name in the up­com­ing SSMU ref­er­en­dum, which will be held be­tween Novem­ber 9 and Novem­ber 12. In his clos­ing state­ments, Jirousek as­serted that “the ‘R*dmen’ name is not the end, In­dige­nous stu­dents will not stop fight­ing […] un­til we see our­selves re­flected in ev­ery level […] of the univer­sity. […] Truth be­fore rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and the truth is this name is hurt­ful and it is time for the ‘R*dmen’ name to change.”

Claire Gre­nier | The Mcgill Daily

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