Ian Campeau has hit pay dirt after leading a long, sustained drive to get Ottawa's sports community on the right side of history.
Since 2011, the Ojibway musician and father has prevailed upon the Nepean Redskins, who play in the National Capital Amateur Football Association, Canada's largest youth football league, to drop the name. That led to filing human rights complaint. The cause seemed to catch greater favour with each round of media coverage across the past two years; CBC's Jian Ghomeshi essayed an argumentative essay recently.
The advocacy parallels a push in the U.S. for the NFL's Washington team to also change its name. Media voices such as Keith Olbermann have argued it's inevitable this will happen eventually, and for anyone who saw Rick Reilly's grope-and-flail defence, it only proved that point.
It's official. The Nepean redskins will be dropping the name and the logo at the end of the season. WE DID IT!!! #changethename
— #CHANGETHENAME (@deejayndn) September 19, 2013
It is not clear what motivated Nepean Minor Football to have a heart. Is it born of being progressive, realizing the tide of public opinion had shifted or weighing the cost of outfitting children in new uniforms against the possibly higher cost of a human rights case? Whether that matters is debatable.
Campeau said today that he was delighted with the club’s decision.
“But I’d like to know whether they did it because of the controversy, or because they think it’s right,” he said.
Campeau, member of the band A Tribe Called Red, has offered to perform a concert to raise money to help defray costs of changing the name.
“If they reach out to me I will do it,” he said today. “But I’ve been waiting for two years for them to reach out to me.”
Club treasurer Evelyn Torley told the Citizen Thursday that the club’s primary concern is for the children who play for the club and the parents who have paid for the season.
The majority of parents are against the name change, she said.
“But it is what it is, we’ll move on.” (Ottawa Citizen)
The club's release states that it will "voluntarily" retire the name, implying the public pressure had no effect. The is what it is response suggests Nepean Minor Football has not appreciated that the human rights case framed this is a community issue. It's not confined to "the children who play for the club and the parents who have paid for the season."
— Louisa Taylor (@louisaINK) September 19, 2013
The cost is somewhat valid, though. One hundred thousand dollars is far from chump change for an amateur football club for boys and girls from ages five to 18. The rumour in Ottawa recently was that the only impediment to Nepean Minor Football changing the name was the cost.
It's entirely possible that those who are gladdened by the change might pitch in with the renaming. Perhaps someone should start a Kickstarter to help the team change to the Nepean Eagles or Nepean Falcons, to play off the community's successful Little League Baseball program, the East Nepean Eagles.
Good on #Ottawa area Nepean Redskins for dropping "redskins" as name. NFL counterpart should do same. The right thing to do.
— Mitchell Axelrad (@mitchaxelrad) September 19, 2013
If the Nepean Redskins become the ex-Redskins, I'll have no problem supporting the 2 kids on my street with $ towards new uniforms.
— John Francis (@johnefrancis) September 19, 2013
Sadly, the Ottawa media has focused more on the cost of the change, rather than wondering about the cost of continuing to insult and isolate many aboriginal people. Within minutes of the decision being announced, noted Ottawa radio panderer Lowell Green of 580 CFRA characterized the move as "spending $100,000 to change their own name ... because one person is offended." (Emphasis mine.)
Never mind whose name it is or that far more than one person believed it was about time for the chance. Ian Campeau's courage of his convictions, commingled with being media-savvy (it must be said), led to progress winning out.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to email@example.com.