A quick Google search
reveals Serge Demers in his mathematical element,
reflecting on EQAO scoring in a video posted on the
Learning Exchange website.
These days, however,
Demers, the interim vice-president academic and provost,
is mulling an equation where a male mascot is both
positive and negative and whether a university’s
parts can be summed up in a giant caricature.
a problem the university hopes to have clarification
in the next few weeks.
Demers believes the discussion
reflects the world in which we live and that it is
the university’s role to review the comments
and weigh the viewpoints to arrive at a solution.
“And that solution
will not please everyone, either. I’m very much
aware that’s the outcome, whatever it ends up
being, will not please everyone,” he says.
Since 2013, when he was
updated and newly outfitted, Victor, a giant male
Voyageur/lumberjack or coureur de bois, patrolled
the campus like he owned it, high-fiving and mocking
referees, imitating high-strung coaches.
But he’s been missing
all season and back in January, Shanleigh Brosseau,
the editor of Lambda, wrote the story of Victor’s
“The fact that
the mascot had been sort of missing from games and
events sparked some confusion around older students,”
It was interesting for
Brousseau to find people to talk about the missing
mascot. One of the reporters connected her to a hockey
team goalie with Victor painted on his mask.
Other students have said
Victor reflects a brutal colonial history that doesn’t
speak to the current face of the university, which
is Indigenous and international.
Brosseau enjoyed the
connection and identity a mascot gives athletics.
also very important the reason why the mascot may
not be included on campus, and to find out why, that
is for the people who feel the mascot does not represent
them and do not have that identity or connection with
the mascot. It’s important to give equal voice
to both sides of that,” Brosseau says.
The local media also
visited: CBC reflected on an Indigenous perspective,
Radio Canada was looking into the French history.
CTV looked at the cultural significance. Northern
Life talked Rob Sacchetto, who was employed to redesign
the costume in 2013. Laurentian even held a contest
on Facebook to name him.
It’s a conversation
the university should have held back then.
And so from a sporting
perspective, mascot changes to reflect cultural sensitivity
have played out on the sports fields and in the arenas
for the past decade.
But it’s remarkable
that Victor’s “existence” gets more
conversation than, say, safe sport and what exactly
constitutes an athlete-coach relationship.
If you’re in athletics,
this could be seen as another hit to the far-east
end of the campus, where some tender loving care and
other capital injections are in order.
The mascot is a social
discussion, rather than an athletic one, says Demers.
And to be fair, he did express his appreciation for
the high calibre of varsity sport on campus and the
concerns people have.
As those who appreciated
the mascot, the university isn’t saying the
mascot won’t return — although in what
form remains the question, he says.
“I think we need
to at least listen to people in terms of their comments.
It doesn’t mean we need to change everything
because of one or two comments, but I think we will
be missing our role in society as a university if
we were not at least listening to what the other point
of views are.”
Within the month, the
committee reviewing the aspects of the mascot will
then bring forward a recommendation to the executive
team in terms of next steps, he says.
“The mascot may
return as is. It may return in a different format,
or we may actually conclude that in 2020 we don’t
need a mascot anymore.”
What’s in a name?
But if the mascot is
under review, can the name Voyageur be far behind?
Nothing has come up about
the name, at least to his office, says Demers.
at this point in time is we are strictly looking at
But let’s ask.
Is the Voyageur part of a racist, colonial past?
Can women and the international
face of Sudbury’s post-secondary student bodies
(which include Cambrian College and College Boreal)
connect with a Voyageur?
Or, shall we employ a
Back in 1977, NASA launched
two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, to explore Jupiter
and Saturn and their moons.
In stunning defiance
of their lifespan, these space crafts continue to
journey, speaking to us as they travel now deep interstellar
space, one reportedly back online after having a recalibration
So then, a Voyageur,
was indeed a porter, “ruptured by their load”
on the trail near Mattawa. But she was also a woman
painting the paddling encampment.
And now Voyagers are
subcompact car-sized craft, journeying literally through
time and space, thanks to ingenuity, collaboration,
and a measure of luck.
In that sense, we’re
all Voyageurs — regardless of the mascot that
Personal Best column runs regularly in The Sudbury