Ottawa man wants Nepean Redskins to change name

An Ottawa man wants a local youth football club to change their name, arguing the Nepean Redskins monikor is offensive.

Ojibway man says name is offensive: 'I don't want to be called that'

An Ottawa man wants a local youth football club to change their name, arguing the Nepean Redskins moniker is offensive.

Ian Campeau has started a social media campaign to get the National Capital Amateur Football Association team to change its name and said so far he's attracted 800 supporters.

An Ojibway father of two from Nippissing First Nations, Campeau said he couldn't believe an Ottawa sports team would use an offensive term like Redskins for a youth football team.

"They are referencing me. I'm an aboriginal male. I don't feel I look that way and I don't want to be represented that way and I don't want to be called that," said Campeau.

The team was named the Barrhaven Buccaneers but changed to its current name in 1981.

Campeau said he has tried to meet with the club but said he hasn't had a response from the organization. Officials and coaches at the Nepean Redskins didn't return emails sent by the CBC requesting an interview.

Councillor doesn't see name as issue

Campeau also tried to enlist the aid of Councillor Jan Harder, who represents the ward where the club plays. But he said Harder didn't have a problem with the name. 
The Nepean Redskins were known as the Barrhaven Buccaneers but changed to their current name in 1981. (Nepean Redskins)

Harder told CBC News it's not in her purview to ask the team to change its name and said she didn't have a problem with the name.

"In Ottawa we have a lot more teams that would be the next target.  I don't think anyone is getting hurt here," said Harder.

"I don't find it offensive, I don't think it's racist. They are making something out of something that isn't there," she said.

Debate across North America over names

Campeau's reaction mirrors that of some Native American groups in the United States, who have protested the names of college and professional teams, including the Washington Redskins, and led to debate even within local bands about whether the names should be supported.

In some cases, teams have changed their names. In June this year North Dakota voters agreed to let the state's flagship university drop the Fighting Sioux nickname in order to avoid sanctions from the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

St. John's University in New York also changed its name from the Redmen to the Red Storm in 1994 in response to controversy over the name and the use of a mascot dressed in Native American garb.

Locally, South Carleton High School also had the Redskins nickname. But the school changed it in the late nineties to the Storm.

Campeau said he will continue to rally support to change the name.

"In every single modern dictionary it's offensive. The word is offensive. This is something that Ottawans shouldn't stand for in any way, shape or form, let alone a youth football team," he said.

Campeau said he understands there would be a cost to changing the name, money a youth football club might not be able to afford. But he said if they phased in a name change it would be possible.

"Do this over five years and whenever new equipment is needed, buy the helmets with the new logos, because it was going to be done anyways," he said.