SASKATOON - Students at a Saskatoon-area high school are divided about a school board decision that will force them to rename their sports teams and come up with a new mascot.
The board voted 8-2 in favour of scrapping the name Redmen for teams at Bedford Road Collegiate high school, along with a logo depicting an aboriginal man with braids and feathers.
Board chairman Ray Morrison says although the origin of the Redmen name was innocuous, there has been feedback suggesting the name and team logo are no longer appropriate.
The students of Bedford Road Collegiate received the news Wednesday morning.
Sylvio Hansonpistarn, a Grade 10 student and school athlete, says he feels cheated because students had no input on the decision.
Grade 11 student Katy White says she welcomes the change, saying it will begin a new chapter in the school's history.
During the board hearing, Dr. Alex Wilson of the University of Saskatchewan told board officials that negative stereotypes are harmful, especially at schools.
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, noting the majority of athletes at the school were non-native.
"The principal said that they are just trying to take away racism on both sides," Grade 11 student Laura Lee Daniels said Wednesday.
"The way I see it, the people who complained about the logo and name, I think that they are the ones being racist, wanting to change the logo and name because it's a native. Even the chiefs that came here for the board they said that they actually feel special to be on the logo."
Aprille Majeed, a Grade 9 student who is aboriginal, said she didn't consider the logo or mascot to be racist.
"It's more like it is welcoming natives to the school and it's respecting people," she said.
"(Students) are kind of mad and upset that they have to change it because now we have nothing until next year. The Grade 9s coming next year were excited to be Redmen but now this is the last year."