Two years after dropping their controversial Clan moniker, Simon Fraser University sports teams will be called the Red Leafs.
“I am proud that the university is moving forward as the Red Leafs,” SFU President Joy Johnson said in a statement. “We believe it reflects the heritage and spirit of SFU, as well as its unique role in collegiate sports.”
SFU’s athletic logo has included a maple leaf for decades, and it is “recognized as a symbol of unity on its campuses,” the university said in a statement.
The Red Leafs will debut their new look with a launch party on Thursday. The women’s volleyball team, which plays Thursday night, will be the first to carry the new name.
The push to dump the 55-year-old nickname, which had been shortened from the original Clansmen, came after more than 13,000 people signed a petition in June 2020. At a virtual town hall in July, 97 % of participants voted to change name. The clan was a nod to the legacy of Scottish explorer and fur trader Simon Fraser, but there was great concern that the name was mistakenly linked to the Ku Klux Klan.
A November 10, 2020 statement from SFU’s Office of Presidents said, “I want to pause and reflect — and ask our community to take a moment to reflect — on the work of student-athletes, students, faculty, and members of the black staff to move this conversation to its rightful conclusion…I understand that raising concerns and sharing personal experiences of racism is painful for black students, faculty and staff and it is not a burden that they should wear. I also want to acknowledge the activism of Black students, faculty, and faculty that took place in the years leading up to this decision. »
SFU also sought comments on the names of nine Indigenous Host Nations.
“Being part of this process is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life,” said Ryan Stolys, co-chair of the university’s name task force and current golf student-athlete. “The [new name] connects to our existing single sheet under which so many athletes before us have competed and reinforces our representation of Canada when competing in the United States as Canada’s only NCAA team. »
SFU’s name change comes amid a growing outcry in recent years around the nicknames of many professional sports teams and post-secondary schools.
McGill University dropped the Redmen for their men’s teams in 2019. They are now called the Redbirds. The women remain the Marlets.
The CFL’s Edmonton franchise severed ties with the Eskimos moniker in 2020, in favor of the Elks.