03/04/2014 11:12 EST | Updated 05/04/2014 05:59 EDT

Saskatoon public school board votes to change Redmen team name

SASKATOON - The Saskatoon public school board has voted 8-2 in favour of changing the name and logo of Bedford Road Collegiate high school.

Board chairman Ray Morrison says although the origin of the Redmen name was innocuous, there has been feedback suggesting the name and team logo, which depicts an aboriginal man with braids and feathers, are no longer appropriate.

Morrison says that around 1923 there were two high schools in Saskatoon's Nutana area.

One school wore blue and were called the Nutana Blues while Bedford Road Collegiate wore red and became the Redmen.

The logo, based on the logo of the Chicago Blackhawks, came in the 1960s when the school was trying to update its identity.

Dr. Alex Wilson of the University of Saskatchewan told board officials that negative stereotypes are harmful, especially at schools.

"I am here as a Cree woman who is a member of this community in Saskatoon and also a person who pays property tax and supports the schools," Wilson said. "Negative caricatures ... are internalized by not only First Nations people but also non-First Nations people."

She said it becomes confusing to indigenous students to understand their place in society when at the same time a cartoon version of their heritage is used as a logo.

Andre Bear, a former Bedford Road Collegiate student, said it was hard for aboriginal students such as himself to fit in at the school.

"The majority of the sports team are not native people," he told the board. "It's kind of degrading in a way to be excluded by all of these people and all of these sports teams ... and they are carrying the name of Redman and they are depicting native people and they aren't native."

Bear added that recent changes with the Nepean Redskins Football Club in Ontario and major movements against the Washington Redskins have made it clear that it's time now for the Redmen name to change.