Eskimos quarterback Logan Kilgore (15) looks on from the sidelines late in the second half CFL football game action against the Hamilton Tiger Cats, in Hamilton, Ont., Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power

CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos keep team name following consultations

Talks stem from 2015 concerns about Inuit people being used as mascots in sports

The Edmonton Eskimos have decided to keep their team name despite concerns from some Inuit leaders.

The club said consultations in the North provided no agreement on whether the name should be changed.

“We heard a wide range of views, ranging from individuals within the Inuit community who were very supportive of the name, and some (who) weren’t as supportive,” Janice Agrios, chair of the team’s board, said Friday.

“What we did consistently hear was a desire for more engagement with the club.”

Concerns were raised in 2015 by Nathan Obed, head of Canada’s national Inuit organization, days before the team played the Ottawa Redblacks for the Grey Cup. Obed has said that Inuit people are not mascots.

Similar concerns have been raised about other professional sports teams using Indigenous names or references.

Justice Murray Sinclair, head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, has said that it’s time to get rid of Indigenous mascots, which would never be tolerated if they targeted any other cultural group.

The Eskimos team met with Inuit leaders and people in the northern communities of Iqaluit in Nunavut, and Inuvik, Yellowknife and Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Territories. The team also hired a research firm to do a telephone survey among Inuit, reaching as far eastward as Labrador.

Agrios declined to release the research results.

She said support varied geographically. Respondents in the western Arctic were almost as supportive of the name as the team’s season ticket-holders. In the eastern Arctic, where most Inuit people live, support fell off.

“There would be more fans of our club in the western Arctic and so that’s where we found a very high level of support for the name,” Agrios said.

Those communities were most eager to see more visits from the team.

“They’ve asked us to participate in youth events, they’ve asked us to participate in community events,” she said. “That’s what we’ve been doing and that’s what we intend to continue to do.”

A national survey conducted in 2017 found 57 per cent of Canadians found the CFL team’s current name acceptable.

Agrios said the issue is settled unless something changes.

“The plan is to continue to listen to all views. If circumstances change, we’ll evaluate.”

READ MORE: McGill students vote overwhelmingly to change Redmen team nickname

Although American Inuit continue to use the word Eskimo, Canada’s northern people left that name behind at about the same time they began negotiating their land claim in the 1970s.

Many historians believe the origin of Eskimo comes from an Algonquin term meaning “eaters of raw meat.”

Others believe it actually comes from another aboriginal term that refers to people wearing snowshoes.

The people themselves have used the word Inuit for centuries. It means “the people” in Inuktut.

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CFLInuit

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Hwy 1 flooding causes massive delays on certain Arrow Lakes ferry routes

Motorists have been waiting around three hours to get on ferries

RDCK: spring flooding financial relief available

The provincial funds are for those affected by flooding in May and early June

Nakusp celebrates Canada Day with parade

Around 50 people from various business and organizations participated in parade

QUIZ: Put your knowledge of Canada to the test

How much do you know about our country?

Selkirk College offering employees voluntary resignations

The college is canvassing employees for those who may want some time off or reduced work loads

Lower Mainland teacher facing child pornography charges

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

UPDATE: Highway 1 open to single-lane traffic west of Revelstoke due to flooding

The Needles Ferry is also experiencing major delays due to traffic backed up from Highway 1

Man who rammed gate near Trudeau residence with truck faces multiple charges

The man, who police have not yet officially identified, will be charged with multiple offences

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

Kelowna RCMP commander calls for more nurses during wellness checks after complaint

Southeast District Commander wants to increase Police and Crisis Team program

‘Tarantula moth’ spotted in broad daylight on Vancouver Island

Polyphemus moths are one of the largest insects in B.C.

B.C. First Nations vow to keep fighting after Trans Mountain pipeline appeal denied

Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Coldwater Indian Band made the application

‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as COVID-19 U.S. cases rise: Horgan

Premier Horgan said he’s heard concerns that Americans have stopped at Vancouver hotels instead of heading to their destination

Most Read