Years of activism by Indigenous students and staff of McGill culminated in the decision to rename the men’s varsity sports teams. When Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier issued a statement of her decision, she announced the creation of a steering committee to pursue a consultative process.
The committee is composed of 10 members including students, alumni, and coaches who are committed to finding a new name that better encompasses the school’s values.
The university will publicize the official new name in time for the 2020-21 school year, The McGill Tribune sat down with the six members of the committee who are currently at McGill to learn more about them and their visions for the new name.
Tia Lore is in her fifth year at McGill. Hailing from Richmond, British Columbia, Lore is pursuing a major in sociology and a minor in communications. She is the co-captain of the McGill women’s soccer team, playing in the winger position. Lore has sat on the Athletics Varsity Council for three years and now serves as its co-chair.
“The people [who] make up the committee are people [who] know athletics and the values of McGill well. Having the perspective of athletes and coaches is crucial. As well, having alumni on the committee is important, since their voices have not exactly been heard in the past [and] McGill’s name does represent them. By opening our doors for people to come meet with us and give us their suggestions, the committee tries to listen to as many people as possible. I think having a name that [encompasses] inclusivity, togetherness, and unity is huge. Whether that means that we have one name for the whole school or one name that represents the men’s side is up for debate.”
—Lore, on why the committee is well-equipped to choose a name.
Lindsay Harttrup is a third-year nursing student on the women’s track and field team. Originally from Kitchener, Ontario, Harttup has competed in high jump, shot put, and long jump. She maintains a strong involvement with the varsity community by attending the various events that the council runs and encouraging discussions between teams.
“I think the purpose of the committee goes beyond choosing a new name for the men’s team. The committee is trying to highlight diverse voices so that when the votes on the name are held, as many components of the [McGill] community as possible are represented. I will be considering a name that is respectful and representative of everyone, especially in the context of the old name. It is important that we encompass McGill spirit and considering how we’d like the school to appear is important. Since there are a lot of potential names, making sure that the chosen name fits well with most people is important.”
—Harttrup, on the purpose of the committee and the process of landing on a name.
Sam Tremblay studies kinesiology and is the captain of the men’s hockey team. He is from Saint-Basile-le-Grand, Quebec and is currently in his fourth year of studies at McGill. After graduation, he plans to pursue his master’s in a biomechanics lab.
“We are not too sure of the direction we are going in for the name. Although I don’t have any real direction yet personally, I hope it will relate to Montreal, McGill, and the values [that] the two encompass. We have people from a variety of backgrounds on the committee, and it is important to have every side of the story involved. While I have my own views, it will be interesting to see the opinions of others as the naming process progresses. I wasn’t expecting to be [appointed], but I feel honoured to be chosen to be involved.”
—Tremblay, on what direction he and the committee are headed toward for the name.
Rikki Bowles is the full-time associate coach of the McGill women’s basketball team. Prior to her appointment to the position in 2018, she acted as the team’s assistant coach from 2011 to 2017. During her time with the Martlets, the team has earned six conference crowns and one Bronze Baby national championship. With support from the Women in Sports initiative, Bowles became the sixth full-time women’s varsity sports coach at McGill.
“I take being part of the naming process very seriously. It is an opportunity to be part of a process that means so much to so many. I’m committed to working towards a name that will unite the McGill community. After being part of McGill athletics in some capacity for 15 years now, I would say that this may be one of the most interesting and important processes that I will be a part of.”
—Bowles, on what being on the committee means to her.
Alexander Pantis graduated in 2019 with a double major in economics and political science. An accomplished athlete, Pantis has been named to the all-star rugby team three times and was on the McGill Principal Student Athlete Honour Roll. He was the recipient of the 2018 Quebec Student Sport Federation (RSEQ) Men’s Rugby Leadership & Citizenship Award and was named the RSEQ 2016 Rookie of the Year. Pantis has been co-captain of the McGill men’s rugby team for two years. He will be pursuing a Graduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship.
“I wanted to be a part of the committee to be a part of the history of the school. I love McGill athletics, and to say I had an input in it is truly an honour. I want to honour McGill tradition while finding a name that is appropriate for the caliber of the school, a name that is indicative of what it means to go here. As a committee, we are looking to give everyone a voice and an outlet for input. As far as I can tell, each aspect of athletics at McGill is touched by one part on the committee.”
—Pantis, on what he feels his voice can contribute to the committee.
Ron Hilaire has served as the head coach of the football team since 2015, prior to which he acted as the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach. He has been immersed in the football world for 20 years as both a player and a coach. He has also served as the recruiting coordinator of the Montréal Carabins and the defensive line coach at Collège du Vieux Montréal. In 2008, Hilaire was drafted by the Calgary Stampeders to play in the Canadian Football League (CFL).
“Fundamentally, as a university, we have always cherished excellence. We have been considered leaders in so many fields, academic and athletic, and I believe that with this new name, we will be able to embody the true values of the university. Being on the committee gives me the opportunity to be part of giving a new identity to an already great institution, which has decided to pursue an inclusiveness of all by continuing the traditions of the past while going ahead with the future.”
—Hilaire, on the importance of the decision to rename.