Laurentian mascot 'under review' as campus aims for more inclusivity
University can do better than Victor the Voyageur as mascot, school's VP says
Laurentian University may be saying bon voyage to its mascot.
The school said Victor the Voyageur– its bearded, toque-wearing caricature of a French-Canadian explorer– is currently shelved in storage while a committee reviews the need for a mascot.
Shelly Moore-Frappier, the school's interim Associate Vice President of Academic Indigenous, said the image doesn't align with the university's push to be inclusive.
"It's 2020, so let's start talking about things that reflect us all," Moore-Frappier said. "We want people to see themselves, and the Laurentian community is a diverse community."
"When we look at the internationalization and the Indigenization of our community, I think that we need to start to think about, okay, how does everybody feel included….and what do we value?"
"We want to create a place where everybody feels a sense of belonging."
The university says that 6.5 per cent of its 9,000 students come from outside Canada.
"I think that when you can see yourself reflected in all different places, that's where a sense of belonging comes," Moore-Frappier said. "It's about changing that campus culture, making that shift to everyone belongs here, and not just a select privileged few."
Other universities, like York, have changed their name to reflect a more inclusive set of values. York changed their name from Yeoman to the gender-neutral Lions. Laurentian also eliminated the name Lady Vees from its women's athletics programs.
"I think this is about the evolution of [Laurentian] and that it's just a different time and that we're we're respecting different values and looking at it a little bit more critically," Moore-Frappier said.
As for critics who may argue that the school is a victim of over-sensitivity, or reacting to political correctness, Moore-Frappier said the real danger is for a community to not be capable of self-reflection.
"I think that we have to ask ourselves why do we want to hold onto something so tightly?," she said.
"I think that as an institution of higher learning that we need to be reflective in anything that we do, and that we make decisions that are good for the whole community and not just one part of the community."
"If you know better, you can do better."