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Should CCH change its Crusader mascot?

The city's Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Oppression Advisory Committee has asked the London District Catholic School Board to consider changing a school mascot — a symbol of Christian holy fighters from Medieval times.

The Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Oppression Advisory Committee is in talks with the Catholic school board

What students think of The Crusaders name controversy 1:25

A city committee has asked London's Catholic school board to consider changing the Crusader mascot at Catholic Central high school. 

It's part of a wider discussion that the Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Oppression Advisory Committee is having with both the London District Catholic and Thames Valley District school boards.

The conversation is in part regarding mascots that are offensive or conjure up images of violent pasts. 

"There's a reason behind this and we want to have those discussions and we want to have a healthy dialogue to say 'here are our reasons why,'" said Rifat Hussein, who chairs the committee. 

A city committee is recommending that the London District Catholic School Board change the CCH Crusaders mascot. (LDCSB)

The Crusades were a series of bloody holy wars ordered by popes in Europe in an effort to spread Christianity and convert Muslims and Jews.  

In the West, Crusaders are often associated with chivalry and piety and fighting for one's beliefs. 

But even some CCH students say it might be time for the name to be put to rest. 

"I don't know much about Crusaders, but I do know it's [related to] violence and killing and it's not what you'd want to have your school represented by," said Jackson Van Vakel, a Grade 12 student at the school. 

"When you really think about it, it's not that positive. We have Rodney the Crusader, a loveable figure but when you think of the Crusader aspect, it's not exactly what you want." 

Crusader 'not a positive image'

The committee has contacted both school boards about its team names and mascots, but the Crusaders at CCH jumped out, said Hussein. 

"It doesn't portray a positive image and it brings up a historical situation that we're trying to address right now," Hussein said. 

But the school board doesn't associate the name of the mascot with the racist events of the past, the Catholic school board said in a statement. 

The city's Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Oppression Advisory Committee is in talks with the Catholic school board over the Crusader mascot at CCH. (Colin Butler/CBC)

"While we appreciate the historical connections of the word "Crusaders" to events that occurred 800 to 1000 plus years ago, there is no attempt to associate ourselves with those events," the board wrote in a statement.

"We believe our strong record and rich tradition of excellence, respect for others and our quest to deepen our faith is now synonymous with the word Crusader for our families, students, staff and community. We continue to strive to embrace diversity and welcome all students and families at Catholic Central."

Van Vakel said he hasn't learned about the Crusades in his four years at CCH. 

His friend, Alex Pettipiece, also in Grade 12, said CCH might have a hard time changing the name.

"I've always looked up to CCH and being a Crusader is good on your resume," said Pettipiece. "It's a warrior, a fighter. I think we should just ignore the negative aspect. It's a good mascot, who cares what people think of it?"

About the Author

Kate Dubinski

Reporter/Editor

Kate Dubinski is a radio and digital reporter with CBC News in London, Ont. You can email her at kate.dubinski@cbc.ca.