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Winnipeg activist visits North Dakota school in plea to change offensive team name, logo

The Dickinson High School team bus.
The Dickinson High School team bus. Samantha Rayburn-Trubyk / submitted

A Winnipeg activist made the seven-hour drive to a North Dakota high school in an effort to convince the school to change its offensive team name and mascot.

Samantha Rayburn-Trubyk, president of Little People of Manitoba, made the trek to Dickinson, N.D., earlier this week to share her thoughts with the local school board on the team, known as the Dickinson Midgets.

Dickinson High School, in the town of around 20,000 people, has also used a stylized “midget” mascot that has been in use for a half-century despite criticism.

READ MORE: Basketball Manitoba bans use of term 'midget' from leagues

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“It’s a midget, what they’ve drawn, as a caricature. It’s horribly unflattering and it’s in their gymnasium. It’s embedded everywhere in their school,” Rayburn-Trubyk told 680 CJOB.

Most people she spoke with seemed to be on board with updating the mascot to something less hurtful, she said, but there were a few who wanted to retain the team’s almost 100-year history under that name.

“Generally, what I’m seeing is from the comment boards – from the keyboard warriors,” she said. “But there were some folks in the crowd… a few of them were wearing their (Midgets) sweatshirts and proudly displaying the caricature.

“The school board, we had a great response from them, and they decided they’re going to open it up to the community, but generally, we had so many comments and even emails from folks in the community saying they’re on board.”

Samantha Rayburn-Trubyk (front) in Dickinson, N.D., with (from left) her husband Ryan Trubyk, school board president Brent Seams, Daren Stenvold (father of a child born with dwarfism), and superintendent Dr. Hocker.
Samantha Rayburn-Trubyk (front) in Dickinson, N.D., with (from left) her husband Ryan Trubyk, school board president Brent Seams, Daren Stenvold (father of a child born with dwarfism), and superintendent Dr. Hocker. Samantha Rayburn-Trubyk / submitted

Rayburn-Trubyk said she’s also heard from some of the school’s alumni that they’re writing letters to encourage the school to change its team name and mascot as well.

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“Some folks are clearly embarrassed about it, or horrified, as we are, and they just need to make the full change.

“I spent the day in Dickinson on Monday and toured their community a little bit. Lovely community, mostly friendly folks. Right in their sporting goods store is a shirt that says ‘Dickinson Midgets.’ It’s so odd — it’s 2019.”

Rayburn-Trubyk said her experience left her hopeful that the name and mascot will change, following a number of sports organizations at all levels that have moved to eliminate offensive team names.

Click to play video 'Sport Manitoba open to banning use of term ‘midget’' Sport Manitoba open to banning use of term ‘midget’
Sport Manitoba open to banning use of term ‘midget’