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.

Just Posted

North Island Rising: Carbon pricing

“I’ve been fortunate enough to hear from and talk with all sides of the climate discussion”

WATCH: Clean-up complete at abandoned Vancouver Island ski hill

Volunteers rid Forbidden Plateau of debris left over from defunct alpine operation

Fence, patrols clean up Duncan neighbourhood, long term solutions scarce

Number of homeless people camping in Lewis Street area has dropped significantly after recent sweep

Closure adds to Parksville Qualicum Beach doctor crisis

One of Canada’s oldest populations having trouble attracting medical expertise

COLUMN: People with disabilities deserve inclusive communities

But to get there, we all need to be part of the change, writes Surrey MLA

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

$578: that’s how much your first distracted driving ticket will cost with recent premium hikes

Over 50 per cent of Canadians admitted to using phone while driving last year, according to study

Kelowna man attempts to steal bait bike from RCMP parking lot

38-year-old Brian Richard Harbison is facing several charges

New survey finds 4.7 million women over 15 were victims of sexual assault in Canada

Some 1.2 million men (eight per cent) report having been sexually assaulted since age 15

CCPA actors fall down a Shakespearian rabbit hole

Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) makes for chaotic theatre fun

TESS VAN STRAATEN: Find Christmas cheer in the heart of Victoria

From the iconic Fairmont Empress to decorated Old Town, seasonal activities abound in the harbour

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Concern grows as deadline looms for major downtown Nanaimo hotel development

PEG Developments say they’re pushing to break ground before Dec. 31 deadline

New school for Hornby Island; $27 million in upgrades to Comox Valley Middle School

Upgrades to Lake Trail include a $1.5-million child care centre

Most Read