The Thunderbirds

The UBC Thunderbird wasn’t students’ first choice, but has since become widely known as the university’s mascot.

In 1933, students overwhelmingly voted to be the UBC Seagulls — a write-in joke candidate in a university-wide poll. But, the UBC Pep Club and The Ubyssey weren’t enthusiastic about having a seagull represent them and did what they thought was best: pick the name themselves.

Although UBC took pride in the new name and officially recognized varsity athletes as “Thunderbirds” in 1934, the university did not consult or gain permission from the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam) First Nation to use it.

It was not until 1948 that Chief William Scow of the Kwakwa̱kaʼ̱ wakw people gave UBC permission to use the name and a traditional ceremony was held during the homecoming football game of that year. Although this took place 74 years ago, UBC continues to work on ways to decolonize and Indigenize sports.

In 2021, the university announced that “Together, we take flight” would be its new slogan, commemorating inclusivity and unity among students, staff and the community.

Being a Thunderbird is what UBC students
are known for — second to attending one of the top schools in the world — and we continue to em- brace this symbol with pride and honour.

The Thunderbird mascot represents UBC’s 26 athletic teams.

Despite missing two seasons due to COVID-19, the T-Birds have made some big achievements this past 2021/22 season. These are a few of the highlights:

  • Men’s swimming earned their fifth consecutive U Sports National Championship title while women’s swimming captured second place on the podium.
  • The men’s golf team earned their seventh consecutive Golf Canada Championship title in the season while women’s golf earned their fifth consecutive title.
  • The women’s hockey team earned the title of Canada West Champions this year and finished fifth in the U Sports National Championships. Men’s hockey team also made it to the U Sports National championships for the second consecutive time.

These are only a few of the well-established athletics programs at UBC. UBC Athletics hosts many games throughout the school year, so you should definitely check them out.

There are festive events you can attend to show your school spirit and support for the T-Birds. The first big event you can go to is homecoming, which will take place September 23–25. Keep your eyes out for Courtside, Pride Night, Winter Classic and many more!