Our Crusader Name/ Logo - An open letter to CCHS students, staff and families

Good afternoon
I believe it is important to reflect upon our practice and ask if we are living the values we share as a school community. With this in mind, I have written an open letter to students, staff and families around my thoughts of the CCHS sport crusader name/logo. 
It is important to note that no decision has been made and that this open letter simply expresses my thoughts. At the end of my letter I have provided a google form for people to share their thoughts and participate in the conversation. Next steps will be determined based upon the feedback I receive to this open letter and will be shared once students, staff and families have had the opportunity to reflect upon and participate in this conversation.
 
Thank You
Chris Rogers
Principal
Canmore Collegiate High School
 
 
 
 

Our Crusader Name/ Logo - An open letter to CCHS students, staff and families

 

"I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept." (Angela Davis)

 

Recently the Alberta School Athletic Association (ASAA) made a change to their policy handbook which states “Any student, staff, coach, manager, trainer or other persons who identify as or are perceived as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, queer or questioning may participate fully and safely in sex-separated sport activities in accordance with their lived gender identity.” (P.42).  This is a big change in ASAA policy and has far reaching implications for our students and all other stakeholders involved in school sport. A key message for me is the idea that involvement in school sport should be inclusive and allows students and stakeholders to “participate fully and safely” in sport. This is a very welcome message that aligns well with Canmore Collegiate High School (CCHS) values. CCHS has taken great pride in the work our students, staff and families have done to make our school a safe and caring place, not only for our CCHS family, but for any who enter our school. With these changes to ASAA policy, and working with our Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) and staff we set out to start tackling issues such as gender neutral change rooms, school policy with regard to overnight stays, chaperones and many more. Our focus is to ensure an inclusive, safe and caring school for all.  When creating a safe and caring environment, we must consider all aspects of school life. 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. It is with this in mind that I wonder how we can reconcile the symbol of inclusion shown by flying the pride flag over our school, with asking our students, to wear a symbol of intolerance and violence (a medieval crusader) on their chest whenever they play sport at CCHS.

 

The #MeToo movement has done much to shine the spotlight on the beliefs, practices and symbols in our society that detracts from or degrades women. Changing society is a big ask. But we can be reflective of who we are in our school and what we want our students to strive to become.  “Believing, behaving, becoming” are our division’s watchwords. Recently I read the following quote that spoke of celebrating “the strength and energy of a woman who is safe, present… whose voice is clear… whose power, purpose and humanity shine” (Marc Cochrane). A powerful statement that we hope reflects what our young women experience at our school. I find it hard to reconcile this ideal with the symbol of the Crusader, a logo we ask our girls to wear as they represent sport in our school.  This seems to be a disconnect from the type of self-image we want our female students to possess. We do not have to look far in our community to see what a strong self-image for girls in sport can look like. Fast & Female is a locally developed organization founded by a former female CCHS graduate. Fast and Female’s Vision is: “A positive, empowering environment for girls in sport.”  I feel it is hard to encourage our female students to feel empowered when they wear a symbol whose history is quite the opposite.

 

Recently CCHS placed in our school a framed copy of Prime Minister Harper’s 2008 apology on behalf of the Canadian people to former students of Residential Schools in Canada. The letter ends with the statement “It will be a positive step in forging a new relationship between Aboriginal peoples and other Canadians, a relationship based on the knowledge of our shared history, a respect for each other and a desire to move forward together with a renewed understanding that strong families, strong communities and vibrant cultures and traditions will contribute to a stronger Canada for all of us” (Prime Minister Harper).  An apology without action is simply words. Across Canada we recognise this fact with the calls to action arising from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). This is a simple truth. Our actions define who we are. To acknowledge the truth in the findings from the TRC and not take action in our school community does not ring true to the desire to move forward together. In CCHS we have recognised the power of symbols by flying the Treaty Seven flag over our school and proudly display this flag in our entrance way. And yet we ask our Stoney student athletes to wear a symbol deeply connected with a dark chapter in Christianity - the Crusader.  Given the pain and suffering delivered upon our Indigenous peoples through Christian run Residential Schools, I am troubled by then asking our Indigenous students to wear this symbol and name on their chest as they represent our school.

 

At one time our student athletes were simply Canmore School athletes. Over time we became Crusaders. Wearing the Green and Gold and proudly chanting CCHS .. CCHS .. has echoed through our gym and across our fields for many years. We should not forget our history and we should celebrate and honour what our students have learned and the accomplishments they have achieved while representing our school.  However, to acknowledge our history does not mean we need to be bound by it. Our school community has changed and I believe it is time to change a name and logo that no longer resonates with our belief system and who we are; as a caring and inclusive school community.  It is my hope that our students will continue to wear Green and Gold and proudly chant CCHS … CCHS ..., in the gyms and across the fields of competition wherever they compete and represent our school community for years to come - Just not with a Crusader name and logo emblazoned on their chests.

 

I would like to hear your thoughts on the idea of changing our school sport name and logo.  Please respond using the following form (click here to respond)

 

Chris Rogers

Principal

Canmore Collegiate High School