Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

While civil war imagery has not recently been used by the school, the district says its past use links the name ‘Rebels’ to the Confederacy. Photo SD58
Over the years, there have been numerous Rebel logos depicting a Confederate soldier. Photo SD58
Princeton Secondary School team jerseys, in 1989, displayed the Confederate flag. Photo SD58

For decades, sports teams and their fans at Princeton Secondary School have been known as The Rebels.

That’s changing, following an announcement from the Nicola-Similkameen School District over the name’s origins being linked to the U.S. confederacy.

“It has recently come to the attention of the Board of Education that the current logo for Princeton Secondary School Rebels has a history of being defined by images that glorify the Confederate cause during the American Civil War. These images, although not used recently, have varied across the years. In the past they have included depictions of confederate soldiers, and the Confederate flag,” reads the letter dated July 3, 2020.

School district chair Gordon Comeau told The Spotlight the issue was raised by the high school’s new principal, Bill Lawrence.

“The days of even hinting at discrimination are far past,” said Comeau, adding the name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy.

“We know it’s very offensive to some people in our system and our community.”

Comeau said he anticipates some backlash over the decision. “Some people don’t like change…But you have to do what is right.”

He acknowledged the word “rebel” can be interpreted in different ways. However, he said, the imagery associated with its use at the school clearly ties it to a hurtful period in history.

Over the years, different logos have been used by the school’s sports teams on their jerseys. Those include pictures of the Confederate flag, and depictions of a soldier with a gun.

A new name and logo that reflects inclusivity will be chosen in the fall.

The letter to parents states: “The process will include an opportunity for open dialogue and stakeholder input. We look forward to this important work and once again encourage all members of our community to support the school and our students in this process.”

Related: Anti-racism protesters rally around world, topple statue of slave trader in U.K.

Related: New Westminster votes to remove statue of ‘Hanging Judge’ Matthew Begbie

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andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

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