The Edmonton Eskimos CFL team says it will speed up the process of reviewing its name after the NFL’s Washington Redskins embarked on a similar process.
Earlier this year, after two years of research by public relations firm Edelman, Edmonton concluded no consensus had been reached on changing its name – so no alteration would be made.
On July 3, the NFL’s Washington franchise announced a “thorough review of the team’s name … in light of recent events around our country and feedback from our community.”
The same day, Edmonton posted a statement to Twitter noting findings from its own research were announced “several months ago.”
In that statement, acknowledging “increased attention to the name recently,” the team promised to “ramp up our ongoing engagement with the Inuit communities to assess their views.”
On Wednesday, Edmonton provided a second statement altering the team’s response to one that pledged quicker action and an update by the end of July.
“We recognize that a lot has occurred since this information was gathered,” the team wrote, referring to its original research, “and as a result we are accelerating our ongoing process of review.”
The new statement added: “We will be seeking further input from the Inuit, our partners, and other stakeholders to inform our decisions moving forward.
“We intend to complete our review as quickly as possible and will provide an update on these discussions by the end of this month.”
‘Change is good’
Responding on Twitter, Tanya Tagaq – the Inuit vocalist and author, a former resident of Yellowknife – wrote: “Change is good. Nobody is taking the game away from anyone! You can win in more ways than one.”
Tagaq challenged the organization to provide details of its years of research, including numbers of people interviewed and their names.
In 2018, the Yellowknife-miut Inuit Katujjiqatigiit – the city’s Inuit association – objected when representatives of the franchise failed to contact the group during a visit to consult with residents about the name. A team representative said Edmonton had not “meant to slight” the association.
Earlier this year, leaders in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region said they did not oppose Edmonton’s decision to keep its name.
The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which represents Inuit across Canada, has voiced its objection to the name, but Duane Smith – chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation – told Cabin Radio the corporation “does not take exception to the term Eskimo as it is not derogatory in any way.”
Jackie Jacobson, the MLA for Nunakput, said in February he was “excited” the team had decided to keep its name.
“It’s a good news story,” he said. “I’m a full-class Eskimo, that’s how I consider myself.”
Edmonton’s football team has held the name since its founding in 1949.