Edmonton Eskimos team name inspired by “hardiness of Inuit culture,” says franchise

CFL team gathered feedback through short-lived online survey

“The team name … was originally chosen more than 100 years ago out of acknowledgement, perseverance, and hardiness of Inuit culture,” the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos said this week. (File photo)

By Nunatsiaq News

The Canadian Football League’s Edmonton team says it originally took its controversial name to acknowledge the “perseverance and hardiness of Inuit culture.”

As the Edmonton Eskimos football club reviews its controversial name amid renewed calls for a change, the team has said little of its origins up until now.

The explanation of the name came only as an introduction to a question in a recent online survey the club published earlier this week, prepared by Abacus Data, as part of the team’s efforts to consult stakeholders and Inuit communities.

The CFL team was founded in 1949, but a number of sports teams in Edmonton have used the same team name dating as far back as the late 1800s.

“The name Edmonton Eskimos was originally chosen more than 100 years ago out of acknowledgement, perseverance, and hardiness of Inuit culture,” the survey question read. “If the team celebrated and contributed to this more, do you think it is best if the team keeps the Eskimo name or chooses a new name, and do you feel strongly or only slightly of that view?”

The survey, which a team spokesperson said was targeted at ticket buyers and stakeholders, was available for the general public to respond to. It was, however, short-lived—the survey was posted on July 13 and taken down mid-day July 14.

Another question in the survey asked: “Thinking about the name of the team, would you say you love it, like it, could take it or leave it, don’t really like it, hate it?”

Yet another asked: “After the debate that has been happening it would be harder to feel good wearing Eskimos branded gear publicly?” or “I think there is too much ‘cancel culture’ today,” which then offered respondents a chance to agree or disagree.

“The ticket buyer portion of the sampling is now complete and being tabulated by Abacus Data,” a team spokesperson told Nunatsiaq News. “The review continues with several different consultation efforts underway. We’ll continue to listen carefully with an open mind and remain committed to providing an update on these discussions by the end of this month.”

This week, the franchise finally released some findings from its consultation with Inuit communities earlier this year, outlined in its 2019 annual report.

That research found that 78 per cent of western Arctic Inuit oppose the team changing its current name, the report said.

In Nunavut, 55 per cent of Inuit oppose a name change, while in the rest of the eastern Arctic, 31 per cent of Inuit oppose any change to the team’s name.

“For the Inuit who view the [team] name positively, the dominant theme is pride,” the report said.

Despite those numbers, the football team is facing increased pressure to change its name. Although there have long been calls by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and others for the CFL to reconsider the name, a few of the football’s clubs sponsors have weighed in in recent weeks.

Boston Pizza ended its partnership with the team last week, while Belairdirect has said its continued support will be contingent on a name change.

As well, the Washington Redskins recently announced they would change their team name, which has long been considered a slur against Indigenous peoples.

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(27) Comments:

  1. Posted by Oppressed on

    The word oppression has become so fluid, one wonders if it means anything anymore.

    • Posted by Sharon on

      I think the name edmonton echoes , would be a good team name .

  2. Posted by Umilik on

    Nunavummiut: We need to solve the housing crisis.
    Also Nunavummiut: We need to solve the suicide crisis.
    Also Nunavummiut: We need to end food insecurity.
    Also Nunavummiut: We need better physical and mental healthcare.
    Also Nunavummiut: We need to solve problems like addiction and domestic violence.


    Can we fire her already? She’s so embarrassing!

    • Posted by jacob U on

      Because she has an opinion about a name means she spends the rest of the day and year doing nothin? It took you just as long to reply as it did her to make a comment. So that means you have done nothing else with your life because you made a comment? Stop being a sore loser because Nunavut finally got it right on election night. Also because someone has a different opinion doesn’t mean she doesn’t work hard on other issues. I don’t agree with you. But I’m not asking that you are fired!

  3. Posted by Es.Keemo on

    As an Inuk I dont care about the term Eskimo.

    • Posted by attacks on

      seperate people, seperate each other, those issues were always there Not one has been taken care of by anyone and you choose to attack her!

    • Posted by Joe Kimo on

      Inuit have greater challenges for sure. Like housing and educational achievement. We are still considering exit of high school an achievement. It is a basic achievement. Basic. Inuit have big matters to deal with and what do they want to do? Focus endlessly on name of football club EE.

  4. Posted by Peter on

    Then it should be named Edmonton Inuit to respect indigenous people, not use a colonial word that some Inuit adopted.

    • Posted by Say What? on

      Ummm, except that it isn’t a ‘colonial’ word, whatever you mean by that. It is an indigenous word, just as Canada, and thousands of place names in the country.

      • Posted by Peter on

        It was adopted by the settlers and used by the government to call Inuit Eskimo, the older generation adopted it as well, it is a colonial word, Inuit never called themselves that word.
        Like I said some Inuit also adopted this word as their own unfortunately, lack of understanding the bigger picture and just taking what is thrown at them, but thankfully more Inuit can see the importance of not calling themselves this colonial word and see themselves with more respect.

  5. Posted by selected survey on

    I can understand the team owners do not want to change the name, the support they looked for were “selected” and “sorted” with influence from the beginning, the few they did ask did not communicate to all Inuks/ eskimos in a way that did not support History and only reached out to people who can attack others negatively

  6. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    I should have picked my name as Northern Eskimo.

    seriously, we have much more pressing needs to tackle rather than the name of a friggin sports team.

    personally though, I like the Edmonton Eskimo’s name. strong, proud, and the logo looks nice with the double EE.

  7. Posted by resident on

    Nunavut’s MP has frequently addressed, I believe, all of those issues you listed and more. She has done so repeatedly, and frequently calls out the federal government for under addressing these issues. Do you ever view the clips from parliament?
    What did Hunter or Leona do to push the government to address these issues?

  8. Posted by Inukimo on

    Love the name Edmonton Eskimos. It has strength

  9. Posted by B Aglukark on

    I find it hilarious with the likes of our MP, the current ITK prez, and Sue (through her twitter page) to be using the term “oppression” or, having the “feeling of oppression” when they read or hear the word “Eskimo”. I would assume based on historical events caused by the “colonizers” of old…the whalers, fur traders, Europeans etc., of which many of us are descendants of. I can’t see any hint of them being victims today of a system they so enjoy and reap the benefits of as a result of that initial invasion (if I can call it that). Anyway, the term “Eskimo” with many variants of its spelling, is an [Algonquin] Indian term (definitions.net, vocabulary.com) meaning “a member of a people inhabiting the Arctic (northern Canada or Greenland or Alaska or eastern Siberia); the Algonquians called them Eskimo (`eaters of raw flesh’) but they call themselves the Inuit (`the people’)”. Let me say that again, it’s an “Algonquin term”, Algonquins and alike who knew our ancestors of yesterday to be raw meat eaters. And, just the same as when we traditionally describe things, place names or other races as best we can, the Algonquins had a term for us that best help them describe either our appearance or what we do.

    The term Eskimo is not a “European” term or an “English” word. Being called a raw meat eater is absolutely not a derogatory term. In fact, we proud ourselves to be raw meat eaters, and we start complaining when raw meat is not available to us.

    Let’s take it a step further. Today, the same people tagged as colonizers also use the term Inuit in a derogatory manner just the same way Eskimo is used.
    You see, we don’t have a specific term for “raw meat eater”, or another term that would describe us distinctively as of today…we do but, it just doesn’t fit well in any type of a conversation. The term “Inuit” or “Inuk” (singular), is the best that our forefathers came up with, meaning “People” or “human being”. And, we’ve accepted that and have moved It. There is nothing more it…just “people” or “human being”. Traditional Knowledge would have it that we were not in the business of having different races or different ethnic groups amongst us until the whalers, fur traders -colonizers arrived. Guess what? we didn’t have a specific name for them. So, lo and behold, some extrovert confidently termed them Qabunaat-meaning “people” or “human beings” (Inuit) with big stomachs and thick eyebrows (is that term derogatory?). Thus, qablunaat we know them as. Again, you all need to understand and accept that the term Inuit or Inuk is still used in a derogatory just the same as Eskimo. It is just human nature for other races to have a feeling of dominance-superiority over another.

    Let take it another step further.
    If the folks listed above are really concerned about terms that are derogatory-or terms used by the “colonizers” that are used to define who we are. Let’s start with Aboriginal or Indigenous.
    The term Eskimo is not derogatory, it’s not offensive, it’s not oppressive…it just a name that best describes a group of people who do exactly that…eat raw meat. Nothing more nothing less.

    • Posted by Derek on

      AMEN Brian. This is only offensive to certain people, not the majority of Inuit Nunangat. I am a proud Edmonton Eskimo’s fan and a proud Eskimo from the Kitikmeot. People in politics should not get involved nor use their powers as elected officials. Only a select few don’t like the name. How can Inuit across Canada move on from the past if they keep dwelling on it. And you wonder why Nunavut will never move forward and grow, it’s because of certain people who dwells on things from the past and keeps pushing their own personal agenda. If I don’t like Pepsi, I am not gunna get other people involved to dislike Pepsi, this my own thing RIGHT.

      The Eskimos football club has always been and always will be a part of our heritage.

      • Posted by Dennis Dorn on

        Dear Derek: I was so refreshed to read your thoughts about Inuit, your people, and Eskimos. It was nice to get a prospective that did not make me feel that since I was a very small boy that I was being derogatory, offensive and disrespectful. When I was a boy I only understood Eskimo or Eskimos was only as the Oxford English dictionary depicted which is this: A member of a people inhabiting northern Canada ,Alaska, Greenland, eastern Siberia. I new nothing about Eskimos being eaters of raw meat or flesh. Sure there were pictures of Eskimos where huge parkas and igloos and being surrounded by huge snow banks and polar bears. As a child I was so in wonder of these pictures and wanted to be an Eskimo. To be proud as these people who lived on the land independently working together in their special community. Anyway, I want to say more to you Derek, but I want to make sure this gets to you so I know this message does not go in vain? I hope to hear from you in response to my thoughts.
        Kind regards,

  10. Posted by Minister’s advice on

    Let’s not forget that the Minister of HUMAN RESOURCES told people who are offended by the team name to TAKE A VALIUM.
    I’d laugh at the minister’s comment if it wasn’t so stupid and reckless.

  11. Posted by No Moniker on

    Here are some assumptions I believe are true: if you polled all Inuit on the term Eskimo and on the use of the term for a football club, the majority would not find it to be derogatory and would also be in favour of the team keeping the name.
    By comparison, the Inuit who have made the most noise for change are a relative minority. Among them, however, is a class that occupies positions of far greater social and political power, and with this comes influence. If you look at the tweets included in the story above, for example, all are in favour of changing the name, there are no counter perspectives offered. Is this a deliberate attempt by the media to make those voices invisible? To create the illusion that they don’t exist, or maybe it is just the subtle suggestion that they don’t matter.
    Maybe or maybe not.
    Another possibility is that the author of the piece didn’t take this into consideration at all, yet also favors the position that the name be changed. I don’t mean to pick on the writer here, I’m only pointing out how power can shape narratives and turn a particular perspective into an orthodoxy.
    Considering the dynamics of power and where they are located here, it could be argued that the voices among the Inuit working to force the act of change are also engaging in a form of oppression.
    On the surface, that probably sounds absurd.
    Yet oppression can be defined as: unjust treatment or exercise of power… [in this case] under the guise of… cultural opprobrium (public disgracing. Or censure).
    This is especially ironic given that the arguments for change are made using the exact same logic; granted, perhaps they should be.

  12. Posted by Eskimo Man on

    Can someone please ask our MP if she and her few will now go after other companies using the word Eskimo, I was surprised to see @tagak twitter admitting she will not go after other companies using the Eskimo word. Shows how much they really care. All for the media as usual.

    • Posted by alright on

      Anyone ever get offended by Eskimo Lumber supply in Arviat and Rankin.. would not be surprised if they are other places as well.

      • Posted by Francis Piugattuk on

        It is not a matter of being offended when the term eskimo is used, using the business eskimo point lumber. Unfortunately when the teams were created in the mid twentieth century, there were residential schools in place to assimilate and erradicate the indigenous cultures of Canada. It was in the form of ridicule and put downs during that era, that they became the Edmonton Eskimos as a group depicting neanderthals. It is of little wonder that it is there is the underrlying need to rid of negative simulations of Inuit,

        • Posted by Hyperbolic non-sense on

          “they became the Edmonton Eskimos as a group depicting neanderthals”
          Really? I don’t buy it at all.

        • Posted by EE fan on

          Do you think David Ward aka Kiviaq, first Inuk to play for EE was oppressed too? He was the first Inuk lawyer you know.

  13. Posted by Jack Napier on

    Esk!mos football matter.

  14. Posted by Xean Drury on

    “Being labelled is oppression.” Said the CANADIAN HUMAN FEMALE who is INUK. Glad there’s no labels involved.

    • Posted by Oppressive Labellers on

      I’m routinely labelled as Qablunaaq, much to my annoyance. No one ever seems to ask me how I self-identify or what my real identity is.

      Oppressive Inuit, labelling people based on appearance. /s

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