Among the most successful teams in the Canadian Football League is the Edmonton Eskimos, and the team holds a lot of tradition, as well. However, not everybody is happy with the tradition, and that includes the team’s name. Over recent years, there have been a lot of North American sports teams that have changed their names as society changes and the names are deemed culturally insensitive. Then, there are those that have stuck around, including the Eskimos, and the name has become a point of contention.
A lot of the uprising in wanting to change the team name came back in 2015, as Inuit leaders had proposed the change to the franchise. Janice Agrios is the chairwoman of the team, and said that “We heard a wide range of views, ranging from individuals within the Inuit community who were very supportive of the name, and some weren’t as supportive. What we did consistently hear was a desire for more engagement with the club.”
Because of how many people that said the team should change their name, the Eskimos higher ups said that they did a lot of research and polls to see how many people were opposed. However, those results were not made public. Instead, Agrios said that there was enough support for the name that a change wasn’t warranted, and the only public poll on a national level only lent support of under 60 percent.
“The plan is to continue to listen to all views,” Agrios added. “If circumstances change, we’ll evaluate.” One of the views that opposed the name came from Norma Dunning, an Inuit scholar and writer of the Indigenous People’s Education organization. “I believe this is their understanding of compromise (by wanting to engage in the Inuit community) and a show of interest in the people whose name that they continue to use is slanderous, outdated and unnecessary,” Dunning said.
“On the one hand, they are saying, ‘Yep, we’re gonna keep using Eskimos, but hey, look over here, we’ll bring some Inuit kids to the south for a game!’” she added. Another viewpoint came from Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Natan Obed. “This issue is about our right to self-determine who we are on our own terms,” Kanatami said. “We are not mascots or emblems.”