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

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

The Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Cermaq Canada continues to adapt operations amid Covid-19 pandemic while supporting employees and local communities

As governments, communities and Canadians continue to modify behaviors and activities based… Continue reading

No more ferries will sail from Departure Bay, Mill Bay, Brentwood Bay during COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Ferries announces major changes to sailing schedules for 60 days starting Saturday, April 4

COVID-19: North Islanders bang pots and pans to honour essential workers

‘Hopefully we can keep it going for them because these people are showing up at work every day for us’

‘Hold our line’: 29 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C.

Saturday’s number of new cases marks the lowest in weeks.

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Federal NDP suggests universal benefit to streamline aid payments

Those who do not need money will repay at end of tax year

Saanich mayor receives his foster bees through pollinator rental program

‘I feel like I’m an adoptive father,’ Fred Haynes says of his rented mason bee colony

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Most Read