(Montreal) A McGill University student newspaper dropped the word “McGill” from its name, because the establishment’s founder owned slaves.

Madison Edward-Wright, editor of the student newspaper which was called The McGill Tribune, also hopes that the Montreal university will also change its name.

Ms Edward-Wright said on Friday that the student newspaper’s editorial board made the decision to change its name to The Tribune because it did not want to continue honoring someone who enslaved Black and Indigenous people.

“It’s not something that aligns with our values ​​as journalists and as an institution that strives to voice the concerns of students,” she explained in an interview Friday.

Removing the “McGill” identifier from the newspaper’s name will also help create a welcoming atmosphere for students from Black, Indigenous and other racialized groups, Edward-Wright said. “It’s [also] about encouraging the university to change. »

On-campus calls for the university to change its name have not had much success, but Edward-Wright said Ryerson’s recent transformation into “Metropolitan University of Toronto” due to its namesake’s ties to the Indian residential school system shows that change is possible.

She added that the student newspaper wants to encourage the Montreal university to reflect on the message it sends by continuing to use the McGill name, adding that a name change would demonstrate the school’s commitment to its fight against the racism.

On its website, McGill University acknowledges that its founder James McGill was the owner of at least five black and indigenous people, including two children who both died around the age of 10. This wealthy Scottish merchant also traded in goods produced by enslaved people.

Edward-Wright says she doesn’t think a name change would erase the strong international reputation of McGill, founded in 1821, for research and higher education.

Upon his death in 1813, James McGill left a sum of money and 46 acres of land at the foot of Mount Royal for the establishment of a college bearing his name, which became the main campus of McGill University. in what is now downtown Montreal.

The university, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, had removed a statue of McGill from its campus in 2021 after it was vandalized. The removal of this statue had already been the subject of a petition and demonstrations.

Ms. Edward-Wright does not believe a change in the university’s name would affect McGill’s strong international reputation for research and higher education.

This community would still exist if the name of the university were changed, she believes.

“It might be under another label, but the hard work, the work ethic, the dedication, it would all stay the same, because we’re still talking about the same people. »

The student newspaper The Tribune is legally independent of McGill University and receives no funding from the institution.

It is funded by contributions levied on tuition fees, which must be approved by students in a referendum every five years. The last referendum took place this year, the editor said.