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

COVID-19: Social media use goes up as country stays indoors

Overall messaging is up more than 50 per cent over the last month

Brushfire reported along Okanagan Rail Trail in Kelowna

The bushfire reportedly occurred just before 1 p.m on Wednesday afternoon

Lake Country athlete selected to participate in national training program

Volleyball player Chloe Ladd will be heading to the Lower Mainland in the fall

Kelowna’s The Bridge receives $30,000 donation for youth substance treatment program

The investment will support its Youth Recovery House project

Keep garbage collection running smoothly during pandemic: RDCO

The Regional District of Central Okanagan gives update on services

First Nations, remote communities need special attention in pandemic, Freeland says

Health-care workers, seniors, Indigenous Peoples some of people most at risk, health officials say

Demand doubles at Revelstoke food bank

Community Connections concerned whether they can meet increasing need

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

“I call her my adopted daughter”: Salmon Arm couple embrace student exchange experience

Rotary Youth Exchange students choose to shelter in place during COVID-19 pandemic

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Super Beaver Task Force: April Fool’s Day joke lightens weight of COVID-19 uncertainty

Ducks Unlimited Canada enlists beavers’ help to protect wetlands in unconventional way

Solar panels installed at Summerland’s municipal hall

Power from energy project expected to provide five per cent of building’s power use

COVID-19: Okanagan College student pens petition for pass/fail grades

Optional pass/fail program would reduce stress, recognize students’ challenges faced in pandemic

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Most Read