Edmonton CFL team officially drops name

Club’s latest consultations found “a dramatic shift in the opinions of the way the name is perceived”

Until the franchise finds a new name, Edmonton’s CFL team will opt to go by the EE Football Team and Edmonton Football Team. (File photo)

By Sarah Rogers

(Updated on July 22)

The CFL’s Edmonton team has made it official: after months of consultation and public pressure, the franchise will drop its name.

The football team announced its widely anticipated plans to discontinue the use of the word “Eskimo” in the team’s name during a teleconference today, on Tuesday, July 21.

“In recent years we’ve come to understand the concerns with the name,” said Janice Agrios, the team’s chairperson. “We know that those who originally chose the name did not mean to be disrespectful or derogatory; in fact, the very opposite—they were proud to associate themselves with such a resilient people.

“However, while we might relate to Inuit values, it doesn’t mean we can continue to use this name.”

Following a year-long engagement with Inuit communities, the football club announced this past February that it intended to keep its 100-year-old name. The franchise said it found no consensus on the use of the team name, even though some Inuit consider it a slur.

But renewed calls emerged this spring for a number of sports teams to remove team names depicting Indigenous peoples as emblems or mascots. The National Football League’s Washington Redskins announced it would retire its name and logo earlier this month.

Faced with increased pressure from both fans and sponsors, the Edmonton franchise opted to relaunch consultations with Inuit communities and stakeholders earlier this month.

Team president and CEO Chris Presson said those latest consultations found “a dramatic shift in the opinions of the way the name is perceived.”

Presson said there are no set details on how and when a new name will be chosen. In the meantime, the club will use the names EE Football Team and Edmonton Football Team.

As it moves towards new branding, the franchise said it hopes to include Inuit in that process.

“Our intent is to engage with the northern communities, especially in the western Arctic, where we’ve made deep and long-lasting relationships,” Presson said. “I think it would make perfect sense to do so.”

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami welcomed the name change July 21, which happened almost five years after its president Natan Obed, first penned first a piece about why the moniker is harmful to Inuit.

“ITK has consistently maintained that ongoing use of the team’s name is damaging to Inuit and to reconciliation,” the organization said in a statement July 22. “The process of recognizing and responding to these harmful effects is key to reconciliation between Inuit and Canada, and contributes to the monumental work required to dismantle systemic racism.”

“We thank the Edmonton team for reaching this important decision and wish them well in their process to determine a new name,” ITK said.

“We also thank them for the relationships they have built with Inuit over the past several years and hope that they continue to celebrate Inuit fans and to work with Inuit across our homeland, Inuit Nunangat.”

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(37) Comments:

  1. Posted by Refreshing! on

    YAay! Another story about the Edmonton Football club… I haven’t seen one in so long

  2. Posted by Toronto Maple Leafs on

    They should change their name too. It’s offensive to Inuit that live above the treeline, Eventually, all sports teams will have to be gender-neutral, with dull colors and represented by stickmen. I think the name should have been changed to the Edmonton CERBS. That can’t be offensive to the 8,000 collecting it, can it?

    • Posted by No Eskimo on

      It’s Maple Leaves, not Leafs, they can’t spell… jk

    • Posted by Quarantinebob on

      Too late, can’t say stickmen! It is now stickperson or people of stick.

  3. Posted by Tommy Papatsie on

    A name that was somehow turned into a racial slur what began as an identifiable term to describe a people how they ate. Perseverance, patience, and yes, resilience are what described a people who called themselves Inuit, living beings. Just so happened the advance of the Western civilization took hold of the name from an old nemesis. The name held and the entire world knew the existence of circumpolar people. A people of perseverance, patience, and resilience.

    • Posted by Kuujjamiuk on

      I was on vacation in Mexico with my mother. We were sitting with a couple from England and talking Inutitut , they asked what language we were talking, I told them inuktitut, they thought we were indians, but when i told them eskimo , they understood. The 7 billion or so people on this planet dont know what a Inuk is , but they do know what a Eskimo is

      • Posted by OH ima on

        what’s your point?

        • Posted by Laughter Ensues on

          The point is clear unless you’re being deliberately obtuse.

          To help you understand, Eskimo is the international standard. Inuit is a Canadian thing. Don’t try using it anywhere else, they’ll look at you, rightly, like you’re from Mars.

          Certainly don’t try to use it with our American cousins, they’ll laugh you out of the room.

      • Posted by Jack Napier on

        The poor English won’t know what to call us. Wyattshallweedo

  4. Posted by Edmonton Emissaries on

    Let them be and let’s start dealing with our endless issues up here. No need to name them all as they never seem to get the attention and resolution by any government.

  5. Posted by Artie on

    ITK & other Inuit social media mucky-mucks… address & solve asap the NU Inuit housing shortage & Inuit food insecurity issue & Inuit suicide issue & Inuit low high school graduation rates & high Inuit unemployment rates & multitude of other Inuit social issues…. and NU will be impressed. Have seen nothing from all of you so far. Thank goodness for GN & feds & some RIOs & mining co’s & private sector co’s & hamlets otherwise Inuit be really struggling. Edmonton football team changing their name alters nothing for Inuit. Certainly not going to put any extra food on Inuit families’ tables’.

  6. Posted by offended? on

    🎶 feelings, nothing more than feeelongs🎶

  7. Posted by Distraction on

    For all those down south that made a fuss over the term have probably never been to an Inuit community and seen the real issues that the Inuit are facing, far more important than a team name. While I agree that if it is offensive to some it should be changed, there are far bigger fish to fry. Addictions, mental health and poverty are rampant in the north. Most people in the north could care less about a football team name. Good job Obed.

    • Posted by Single Handed on

      Natan wasn’t the only person who pushed for the change and I doubt he needed 37.5 hours per week to prepare an argument.
      We aren’t the only Inuit in the Arctic, ITK represents much more than that. Natan has finally given that organization some teeth and recognition. It never had that before.

      • Posted by General Mills on

        More than anything, this Edmonton Eskimos kerfuffle is showing the class divisions between Inuit.

      • Posted by Jack on

        Is that you Nathan?

      • Posted by Arctic Peoples on

        This is true. What is equally true is that most arctic peoples are not Inuit.

        ITK needs to expand cooperation with all Arctic peoples to address issues that are of concern to everyone

  8. Posted by more serious topics on

    There are a lot of things I agree on and don’t agree on, on this.
    I am happy with the way that Inuit are being recognized and they are listening to us. it’s 2020 and I hope a lot more change.
    But the thing is that us Inuit have called other ethnicities by the way they look. for example Puatiki (black) which is for Portuguese, Inuit couldn’t say Portuguese back then and they find a way to say it the way they can. Another one is Iqilik (first nations, metis) one with lice on their hair. which is very similar to the way Eskimo is used to say Inuit. One more thing is Qallunaaq, there are a various explanation on this. A man/woman with big belly and with big eye brow. Qallu = eye brow, Naaq = belly.
    I just don’t understand why it was so important to have the elected leaders to push so hard for a team name when they could’ve spent their time on other things. I understand there are a lot of people that are hurting from this but there are a lot of them that are also proud.

    • Posted by Jack on

      The fact of the matter it was the politicians that caused this. Their words barely shook a hair! The club decided to go this way due to the pressure resulting from black lives matter globally. Teams of other sports in usa are changing names. Don’t give the inept politicians up north credit for something they didn’t do.

      • Posted by Jack on

        Corrections: I meant to say it was not the politicians

    • Posted by not amused on

      I feel that ITK, NTI, KIA & other boards can do much better than waste tax payers money on a football name that was given-name long before the ITK President was born. The money could have been well spent on housing issues, homeless and those who are unable to work due to disability. I am not offended by the name ‘Edmonton Eskimo” as I feel it was created long before i was born. I was born & raised in an environment where I never knew these things existed until I started residential school -I never know the outside world either. Come on ITK, NTI, KIA, housing issues etc. are far more important than a football name!

  9. Posted by NTI Bennie on

    I wonder if there is any more sports team called or name Eskimos in Canada and should there be one out there then ITK still has some more work to do yet.

  10. Posted by Ronnie on

    You got media attention for winning a battle which was won before it was started. The name is gone from CFL. Racism between the name protesters and Eskimos. …true northerners. The Eskimos are silenced yet again by others. You won get over it.

  11. Posted by No Eskimo on

    Inuit win. After decades of a game. Eskimos retire.

    Inuit 1. Eskimos 0

  12. Posted by Nunavumiutaq on

    With this resolved, can we now move on to dealing with the more pressing issues Nunavummiut face? Housing shortage = over crowded homes = food insecurity = no privacy to deal with mental distress = often unnecessary tensions within a family unit = negative effects = suicide/murder/violent crimes = survival mode thus unable to recover and heal.

  13. Posted by Rob Pascal on

    How many Inuit I know dislike eating Raw Frozen Meat? Fish even? Fucks up my blood pressure and gout but i load up with salt when i score that. Our People so strong them People named a Football team after us. What they called Us. Eskimo Strong.

  14. Posted by Toonik’s Grandfather on

    Bullying is live and well by non-Eskimos.

  15. Posted by Eskimo in nunavut on

    This will be Natan’s legacy, when he could of done so much more with the effort he put into this. What a waste.

  16. Posted by attacks on

    Only politicians and people in Government can change things and not individuals, Natan stood up for all not for a few, its been for a few last 22 years

  17. Posted by No Moniker on

    As mentioned above this entire exercise has absolutely exposed the fault line between social classes within Inuit Nunangat; that is, between an emerging Inuit Bourgeoisie and a larger underclass who have been made invisible and silent by their lack of social currency.
    .
    On the one hand, Western educated and socially privileged Inuit have leveraged their power in the service of Western narratives about language and power. Forgetting that Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit states decisions be made by consensus; (Aajiiqatigiinniq) this new class have adopted the philosophies of the West as true proselytizers, enlightened and with a piety matched only by the priesthood. – That is to say; listen to us, we know better than you, we will lead you to the promised land.
    .
    If you look closely there is a lesson here about colonialism, can you see them? Your new colonizers?

    • Posted by Sam on

      No Moniker,you really nailed it,well written. The new Inuit leadership also has a major identity crisis

    • Posted by Sam on

      No moniker, you nailed it ,they are right up there.sigh I miss the old boys club,

  18. Posted by Is that you Pinocchio? on

    Lack of Infrastructures, poor Education (not standard to Canada), Health Care, Social Issues, and Housing this is a sample how system lacks administration and poor leadership roles and responsibilities. Pretty embarrassing. Did you win the game!?!

    MP, ITK, MLA’s, GN, or DIO’s lists goes on… all publicity stunt’s!

  19. Posted by Nothing changes really on

    This changes nothing for Eskimo, Inuit. This is just a power trip gone too far. When we wake up this morning, the Eskimo word is still among us, so is inuit, inuk. The only little change, but unfortunately is the name Eskimo gone from the proudness of a team, who took that name years ago, to proudly present strength, endurance, all of which a team needs to play and hopefully win. Bad day for Eskimo, Inuit, Inuk and Canadian non Inuit too.

  20. Posted by Kenn Harper on

    Maybe the team should do a “Prince” and rename themselves THE TEAM FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE EDMONTON ESKIMOS.

  21. Posted by Jack Napier on

    The Edmonton E-Numbers football club.

    • Posted by BitCoin Miner on

      The E on the E tag means east, so maybe not?

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