Suzanne Fortier, McGill's Principal and Vice-Chancellor, issued a statement today that described her decision to change the name of the "Redmen" — the name of most of McGill's men's sports teams.
The debate about the name comes to an end after a months-long conversation initiated by Indigenous students and staff. In a vote held by the Students Society of McGill University (SSMU), the student body voted overwhelmingly in favour of changing the name.
It is also worth noting that Fortier's announcement comes after students voted to reject an increase to the athletics fee to pressure the university administration to abandon the "Redmen" name.
Fortier stated in her letter that, in the interim, the men's teams will simply be known as the "McGill Teams."
TL;DR Suzanne Fortier, McGill's Principal and Vice-Chancellor announced that, for the rest of the season, the McGill men's teams will be known as the "McGill Teams."
In the statement, Fortier explained that "the name of our men’s varsity teams has generated extensive debate in our community." The name was never intended to refer to Indigenous peoples, and was in fact a reference to the school's red jerseys.
However, as Mrs. Fortier states, "neither language, nor perceptions of language, are fixed; they change as the world changes [...] Intention, however benign, does not negate prejudicial effect."
Because the name is now inextricable from its racist connotations, it will be changed. A new, permanent name has not been announced.
Fortier stated more specifically that "it will take time for our community to decide upon a new team name that honours our long history of athletic achievement, but we will get there."
"For the 2019-2020 athletic season, the men’s varsity teams will be known as the McGill teams. The University will announce a new name in time for the 2020-2021 season."
The McGill women's teams are known as the "Martlets," a name that matches the bird found on the University's crest.
The "Redmen" name will need to be removed not only from players' jerseys, but also from all promotional material, legal documents, and merchandise.