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Richmond high school ditches controversial moniker

Cambie secondary will no longer have "Crusaders," and has switched to a more "inclusive" and gender/religious neutral name

A Richmond high school has steered away from its historically controversial, near 100-year-old moniker and has rebranded to a name removed from gender or religious bias.

Cambie Secondary, on Jacombs Road, has ditched its long-time “Crusaders” mascot, due to its connection the bloody Christian-led Crusades – a series of religious wars over 200 years between European Christians and Muslims, which started in the year 1096 to primarily secure control of holy sites considered sacred by both groups.

One of the teachers at the forefront of the two-year-long, name-change process, Brian Meier, said concerns had been raised over the years by some in the school community about the moniker’s obvious link to a “specific religion” and to the use of a knight, a male-dominated area of history.

And, after lots of discussion with various student groups, staff, alumni and local churches and mosques, Cambie students will now sport the more “inclusive” name and logo of the “Coyotes.”

“Different people had different reasons," said Meier of the decision to make the change.

“The sentiment was that the term Crusaders no longer identifies with the community as a whole.

“Some people, for instance, had concerns about it having a strong connection to a specific religion and, as a public school, maybe we shouldn’t have that.

“And then there’s the connection to the Crusades, which is implied with the helmet. We’re a very diverse community here, with a fairly large Muslim population.”

Meier said there were questions whether the old moniker made everyone feel welcome coming into the school and questioning what they’re representing when they put on a school uniform.

“There were also concerns from a gender-based point of view, in that Crusaders, historically, were all generally men,” he added.

“For all the various reasons, people didn’t feel like they were being represented.”

The school first opened in 1928 as Richmond High, on Sexsmith Road, before changing its name in 1953 to Cambie Junior Secondary School and then moving to its current location on Jacombs Road in 1995, with the name H. J. Cambie Secondary School.

Crusaders name been around at Cambie for a long time

As far as Meir knows, the Crusaders name has followed the school throughout its history.

He admitted there were a few questions from staff and alumni surrounding the shift, but a video made by students on the school’s POCA (People of Colour Alliance club) helped explain the history of the Crusader name and the rationale for the change.

“Staff were asked to show this video and have discussions with their classes about name change,” added Meier.

“The feedback was generally positive. There are some staff who are actually grads from here, so they connect with Crusaders, as well as other alumni who’ve come back as parents, for example.”

Meier said the new Coyotes logo was actually designed by a Cambie alumnus and that local First Nations were consulted to make sure there were no conflicts with the new moniker.

Other names that made it onto the short-list during the consultation process were Cracken and Classics.

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