Edmonton Eskimos not considering name change after year-long review

Written By Neil McKenzie-Sutter, Posted on July 4, 2020

After conducting an extensive outreach program with the Innuit community of Canada, the Edmonton Eskimos football club of the CFL announced on July 3rd they had decided on keeping the name. 

The detailed study period, entailing conversations with Innuit leaders, and interviews and telephone surveys with the Innuit population of Canada at large, could not conclude any consensus with the Innuit community on a desire for a name change, so the football club has concluded it is keeping the name. 


The decision comes amid a wave of protests associated with the Black Lives Matter cause, starting in the U.S. but spreading to many other corners of the world, which has put pressure on companies and other organizations to adopt more politically correct stances on issues that are sensitive to minority populations’ points of view. 

Even though the protest movement began as a rallying cry for issues facing the minority black population in America, however, some native rights groups have latched onto the momentum of BLM to further awareness of Native issues as well.

However, the decision by the Eskimos organization seems to be unrelated to this recent protest movement, seeing as the study was initiated last year. 


Despite this, concerns remain. 

The term ‘Eskimo’ has become widely seen as offensive in recent times, as the term may have originated from an Algonquin term, meaning: ‘eaters of raw meat.’ However, this definition isn’t 100% agreed upon. 

The term is also considered partially offensive because it is seen as non-specific: most of the ‘Eskimo’ people living in Canada should be more accurately referred to as ‘Innuit.’

However, that conversation is still complicated in modern times, as the term ‘Eskimo’ can even be used in a non-offensive manner when generally referring to a collection of native tribes inhabiting regions in Siberia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland. They are related to each other but not the same tribe. 

Some Innuit also sees the term as offensive because their feeling is the Innuit people should not be used as mascots, however, while some Innuit indeed does find the term offensive, it’s clear that some other Innuit isn’t offended by the term.

The complexity of this conversation may have played a role in why the Eskimos decided on keeping the name. 

Additionally, it is true the team is a highly popular sports icon in Canada as they are one of the most successful CFL teams in the league (arguably the most successful), making the concept of a name change unpopular in that regard.

Neil McKenzie-Sutter

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