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CCHS students start committee to change athletic school team name

CANMORE – An ongoing conversation in the halls of Canmore Collegiate High School has shifted into real change after a student committee decided to revise the long-standing athletic team name, the Crusaders .
Canmore Collegiate High School Crusaders senior boys basketball team take on the Clairsholm Cobras during tournament action Saturday (Dec. 13).

CANMORE – An ongoing conversation in the halls of Canmore Collegiate High School has shifted into real change after a student committee decided to revise the long-standing athletic team name, the Crusaders. 

Athletic teams at the high school will soon have a new name and logo stitched to their jerseys, as a student committee goes through a process of determining what that name will be. 

The discussion about changing the team name from the Crusaders began after principal Chris Rogers penned a letter to students in March with the intention of opening a dialogue on the current team name and whether it represented the school’s current values.

“We have decided to move forward with changing the names. We’ve had a student committee on what those new names will look like and they’ve been consulting with the student body kind of back and forth on things as they work through that process,” Rogers told the Outlook. 

In his letter, Rogers cites inclusivity as his main reason for opening the discussion, writing that the focus is to “ensure an inclusive, safe and caring school for all.” 

“This includes looking at our team logo from the perspective of who we are as a school. Our current logo is a medieval crusader knight, a symbol that comes from a time in history where LGBTQ individuals were not welcome or tolerated by society,” the letter said. 

READ MORE ON THIS STORY: Canmore high school principal questions Crusaders' name

The committee was created shortly after the letter was made public. Three new team names are to be voted on in the coming weeks, according to a Grade 9 representative of the committee, Ruby Pauch-Nolin.

“We have three ideas that everyone’s going to vote for – Coyotes, Wolverines and Cyclones,” she said, adding the three names were chosen from a “really long list” and are meant to make the name more diverse.

“We’ve kind of been talking about it all year … I think a lot of people think ‘why did they name it that in the first place?’ … We all kind of know the significance of the name and we knew why we needed to change it.”

The current name and team logo, which features a knight, was chosen more than 40 years ago by the then student council. In a previous article in the Outlook, a member of that student council, Carole Nelson, said the name was chosen for its larger meaning. 

“As a student council, we came up with the name and for 40 plus years we have been the Crusaders. The Crusaders stood for everything that was noble. We were never, ever once informed what a Crusader meant in the archaic terms,” Nelson told the Outlook in April. 

READ MORE ON THIS STORY: Alumni chime into Crusaders' name change

Ruth Suffield, a CCHS teacher who’s also overseeing the student committee, said she’d recently spent time in Pakistan learning about Islam and was a little confused by the name herself. 

“I just recently spent quite a bit of time studying Islam, understanding that region better and the tensions that exist between our countries and Islamic countries, so I can’t not notice the historical reference of Crusaders to the Christian Crusades in the past,” she said. 

Suffield said while no student directly told her they found the name offensive, the conversation has been an educational experience for all. 

“I think it’s true that lots of students and perhaps people in the valley didn’t associate Crusaders as necessarily negative, but it’s great to open up that discussion and be able to share kind of my experience in different parts of the world and why someone might not feel very welcome,” she said. 

In terms of cost, superintendent Chris MacPhee said the funds that will be used for a new logo and team name won’t impact the needs of the classrooms. 

“While this could be a concern, we have had significant private contributions to support any changes in addition to normal wear and tear yearly budgeted dollars. It should also be understood that none of these dollars come from the instructional budget lines which impact and classroom needs,” he told the Outlook in an email. 

“This is a school based administrative decision that rests with current staff, student and parent population. Also this is not a name change for the school, which remains Canmore Collegiate High School, but a change to the identity name and logo. Data has shown overwhelming support that has come from current family, students and staff.”

Meanwhile, Rogers said he’s taken a step back in order to allow students to have their own voices heard. 

“[I] never really intended to be that involved in the process, I’ve always felt that it was a student voice. I stepped it back because I didn’t want people to feel that I was trying to impose my view on the students,” he said.

“They are the ones who are working to come up with a name that will be our school identifier for the foreseeable future.” 

Pauch-Nolin said the students are hoping to have the change finalized and ready for school for the 2019-20 year. 

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