Campaign to Rename Nepean Redskins Grows in Canada

Published in Indian Country Today Media Network | October 7, 2012 | Circulation: 300,000 unique monthly visitors

A Tribe Called Red’s Ian Campeau is campaigning for a name change for the Nepean Redskins, an Ontario youth football team. Photo by David P. Ball

Controversy over racist sports team names is growing in Canada, sparked by furor that erupted over a Facebook bid to rename the Nepean Redskins, an Ontario youth football team.

“I don’t want to be called a ‘redskin,’ ” said A Tribe Called Red’s Ian Campeau, Ojibwe of the Nipissing First Nation, to Indian Country Today Media Network, after his attempt to get the Redskins renamed ignited nationwide debate. Far from embracing his idea, team officials complained that renaming would cost more than $100,000 and said the name wasn’t racist anyway. Campeau offered to help them raise the funds.

“I don’t want them to stop playing football,” Campeau said. “I want to try and come up with solutions. I suggested ways to change name smoothly.”Nevertheless, his bid brought down criticism, including that of a local government councilor, Jan Harder, who said she would not help.

“You won’t get it from me or anyone else I know,” Harder responded to his e-mail, according to the Ottawa Sun. “The Nepean Redskin football name is some 40 years old or more and in the entire time I have been in Nepean. Until the last year or so there has never been any talk of name change and even since then only a few including yourself. You are looking for trouble where none exists.”

A subsequent op-ed piece in the Ottawa Sun echoed that sentiment.

“If you want to call the particular word choice racist, you can certainly go there. But it tells us more about what’s going on in your head than about what’s going on in the heads of the team members and fans,” an op-ed columnist wrote in the newspaper. Other media followed suit.

“Why am I even getting so much press about this?” Campeau said, comparing the team name to another vulgar racial epithet. “In the media, it’s always written as the ‘n-word,’ but people can say ‘redskin’ all they want. By any modern dictionary definition, it’s offensive. It’s completely inappropriate for a youth football team to use.”


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