From men to hawks: Calgary high school changes name, logo for sports teams

A Calgary high school is changing the name and logo of its athletic teams after complaints that the name was derogatory or even racist.

CALGARY — A Calgary high school is changing the name and logo of its athletic teams after complaints that the name was derogatory or even racist.

Come September, Western Canada High School’s teams will be called the Redhawks rather than the Redmen.

The new logo is a raptor’s head with the name “Redhawks” on a banner underneath.

The Calgary Board of Education and officials at the school decided to scrap the old name along with a logo depicting an aboriginal man with braids and feathers.

The decision was made after a year-long consultation with students, staff, parents, alumni and aboriginal leaders.

The school will stick with its colour scheme of red and white, but it will still cost about $200,000 to replace jerseys and the gym floor with the old logo.

Principal Kim Hackman said five names were considered, but “Redhawks” was chosen because it has significance with First Nations communities and in southern Alberta where the bird soars over the landscape.

The Redmen name has been attached to the school since the 1940s and complaints go back as far as the 1970s, Hackman said. A review in 2006 did not result in any changes.

But now is the right time for a move, he said.

“I think there’s a change in values within Canada and within our own system and so we needed to review this as a result.”

Mihnea Nitu was one of the students on the consultation committee. The 17-year-old said people will come to see that the name change is a good idea.

“I think over time people will come to realize that this was a very good decision for the aboriginal community that not only attends the school, but will attend the school, or maybe has attended the school in the past.”

Earlier this month, a Saskatoon-area high school unveiled a new name and logo for its sports teams because of similar concerns.

Bedford Road Collegiate’s teams will also be known as the Redhawks instead of the Redmen and will sport a hawk’s head logo.

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