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

Colourful characers and important messages introduced in Th’owxiya: The Hungry Feast Dish

Indigenous storytellers spin a tale from the Kwantlen First Nation July 31 in Quesnel

Forestry Ink: Building soil health through biodiversity

Regular columnist Jim Hilton shares information from the TRU soils conference

Quesnel Waveriders make a splash in Kelowna

Quesnel swimmers Seth Reddemann and Hollyn Rowsell competed in the KAJ Snowfest Jan. 17-19

Kersley Farmers Institute’s winter workshop highlights opportunity and connection

The workshop featured a new networking event and a full day of presentations and updates in Quesnel

Quesnel archers hit the bulls’-eye

Four Quesnel archers won medals at Vanderhoof’s indoor 3D shoot Jan. 18-19

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

Most Read