The term ‘midget’ has long been used in a variety of sports even though it is considered by many to be a derogatory slur. (Pixabay photo)

Members of little people community applaud change to drop ‘midget’ term

‘It’s not about sensitivity,’ says Allan Redford, the president of the Little People of Canada

The term ‘midget’ will be dropped along with other traditional age group names across Hockey Canada programs in a change that’s being applauded by members of the little people community.

“Hockey was our mountain and we’ve climbed it,” Little People of Manitoba president Samantha Rayburn-Trubyk said Tuesday from Winnipeg.

The governing body of hockey in Canada plans to replace categories like midget, novice, peewee, bantam and atom with age-based designators starting next season. The change was approved at Hockey Canada’s winter congress over the weekend.

“We want to be an inclusive brand, we want to be an inclusive sport, we want to be an inclusive organization,” said Mark Halliday, Hockey Canada’s vice-president of marketing and communications. “If there were groups that had some discomfort with a name, we wanted to look at that and make sure that we weren’t putting up barriers to keep people away from the sport.”

The term ‘midget’ has long been used in a variety of sports even though it is considered by many to be a derogatory slur.

“It’s not about sensitivity,” said Allan Redford, the president of the Little People of Canada. “It’s about awareness, acceptance and dignity. It’s often sometimes difficult to imagine the challenges that people with short stature face.”

The issue generated some buzz a year ago when Regina Scott of Guelph, Ont., who has a young son with dwarfism, helped make a change at her local youth basketball association after noticing the term on a banner at a mall.

The Ontario Basketball Association later announced it also planned to drop the ’midget’ term, a move supported by Canada Basketball, which already used age descriptors.

Many provincial and national associations followed suit.

Redford credits Scott for being a catalyst that helped push the story to the forefront. He added that a letter-writing campaign to various domestic sport federations also had an “overwhelmingly positive” response.

“It means a lot to our group as we step forward to obtaining dignity and respect,” said Redford, who also serves as a director with the Dwarf Athletic Association of Canada.

The International Ice Hockey Federation and USA Hockey already use age designators. Hockey Canada initiated its change in conjunction with its provincial and territorial members and following the recommendations of a task team.

The federation had classified the midget category as players who are under 18 as of Dec. 31 of the current season. Bantam is for athletes under 15, with peewee, atom and novice used as classifications for younger players. Some organizations use descriptors like minor midget and major midget as well.

Moving to age-specific categories (U13 for under-13, U11 for under-11, etc.,) should also help make for a simpler classification system.

“It’s something new for (Canadian) hockey and we’ve got a long history of using other names,” Halliday said from Calgary. “But we think it’s going to be a much simpler process for people who may not be familiar with the long history of hockey.”

Redford said the term ‘midget’ originates from the oppression and exploitation of people with dwarfism in freak shows in the mid-1800s.

“The bottom line is the m-word is attached to trauma,” he said. “Every time that it’s seen or heard, it is hurtful.”

The term is still used in some tournament titles. One of the more prominent events is the Dec. 26-Jan. 1 Mac’s Midget AAA World Invitational Tournament in Calgary, an international competition first held in 1978 as the CP Challenge Cup.

It wasn’t clear if a name change might be forthcoming. A message left with tournament organizers wasn’t immediately returned.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tofino’s Race for the Blue fishing derby casts philanthropic net

‘Thankful Thursday’ garners over 7,200 cans of tuna for local food banks

Tofino General Hospital Foundation raising funds for new equipment

“The doctors and nurses are worked off their feet.”

Surfrider Pacific Rim: Flash Clean Fridays

Grab your reusable gloves, bags and buckets and join Surfrider Pacific Rim’s newest initiative.

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation says more resources needed to keep Tribal Parks open during pandemic

Tribal Park Allies program needs more buy-in from Tofino businesses.

Tofino mayor Josie Osborne seeks B.C. NDP nomination for Mid Island-Pacific Rim

Longtime B.C. NDP MLA Scott Fraser announced on Monday that he will not be seeking reelection

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Comox Valley protesters send message over old-growth logging

Event in downtown Courtenay was part of wider event on Friday

Application deadline for fish harvester benefits program extended

Those financially impacted by the pandemic have until Oct. 5 to apply

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Most Read