Stop using Indigenous mascots, says one U of S department
Schools and sports teams need to stop using Indigenous people as mascots, staff of one University of Saskatchewan department unanimously agree.
The department of educational foundations in the university’s College of Education issued a statement Friday calling for the use of Indigenous people as mascots, logos and slogans to stop.
“[We] unanimously support and recommend the immediate retirement of such caricatures,” a portion of the statement reads.
Faculty and staff were very happy to support the motion, department head Diane Miller wrote in an email to CTV Saskatoon.
“The idea that such logos and mascots are positive representations of Indigenous peoples is false. These images spring from centuries-old racist discourses,” she wrote. “The Department of Educational Foundations agrees that it is time to stop pretending that stereotyping is an honour. It is racism.”
Professor Paul Orlowski hopes the statement spreads across the university.
“We are just a department. It would be nice to see the College of Education support it, and then the whole university,” he said.
The statement gathered momentum Friday night after members of the department posted it to a Facebook page calling for Bedford Road Collegiate in Saskatoon to stop using the ‘Redmen’ name and mascot.
Erica Lee, who was recently voted Saskatoon’s best young activist in the Planet S readers’ poll, is a major voice behind the push to change the Bedford mascot. She’s fought for change for over two years, but notes the push to change the ‘Redmen’ mascot has been ongoing since the ’90s.
“It’s great the department… is willing to stand behind us,” Lee said.
The fight to change the ‘Redmen’ logo isn’t the only one of its kind in North America. The Cleveland Indians, Washington Redskins and Chicago Blackhawks are just a few professional sports teams being pressured to change their mascots and names.
“People are starting to realize how harmful they can be,” Lee said.
The department’s statement reminds people that the problem also exists at a local level, she added.
“So many people will pay attention to things like the Washing teams and Cleveland teams, and not see that it’s happening in Saskatoon too. It’s important to draw attention to it.”
The department’s full statement reads:
“Be it resolved that the Department of Educational Foundations, College of Education at the University of Saskatchewan does not support the use of Indigenous people depicted as school mascots, in logos, slogans or team names in K-12, post-secondary and community educational institutions.
“As a department focused on pedagogy, research and community engagement relating to Indigenous peoples, social and ecological justice, we unanimously support and recommend the immediate retirement of such caricatures."