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

Just Posted

Body discovered floating in water near Lasqueti Island

JRCC reports fishing vessel personnel made the find on Saturday, Sept. 19

PQBeat: Do you remember your first television set?

Sharing memories of TV shows past and present

COVID-19: New air carrier sought for Qualicum Beach Airport

Island Express Air ends operation due to pandemic

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Resident Alien returns to Ladysmith for filming in early October

New SyFy series back after spring filming interrupted by COVID-19

COVID-19 skill loss will hurt global economic output for rest of century: survey

About one in seven Canadian students satisfied with transition toward online learning

Most Read