The Canadian Football League team in Edmonton is losing its nickname, the Eskimos. The CFL team says it will be known as the “Edmonton Football Team” while it goes through the process of coming up with a new nickname “befitting our storied team.”
Edmonton said in a statement last week that it was reviewing a name change and would be “seeking further input from the Inuit, our partners and other stakeholders to inform our decisions moving forward.”
Teams across sports have been under increasing pressure to drop racist or stereotypical names. Critics say the Edmonton team’s name is a derogatory, colonial-era term for Inuit. Aaron Paquette, a city councilor in Edmonton, tweeted that he had an “extremely productive” meeting with the club Thursday. He said he was “very impressed with the potential coming out of our conversation.”
In February, the club said it was keeping the name following yearlong research that involved Inuit leaders and community members across Canada. The club said it received “no consensus.”
On July 8, the club promised to expedite another review and provide an update by the end of the month. One of the team’s sponsors, national car-and-home insurance provider Belairdirect, is rethinking its relationship with the club because of the name. Other sponsors also said they would welcome a review.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson has said the team should take steps toward a change. The CFL in June postponed the start of its 2020 season because of the pandemic, and there is no guarantee the league will play this year. Although American Inuit continue to use the word “Eskimo,” Canada’s northern people left that name behind about the same time they began negotiating their land claim in the 1970s.
Founded in 1949, the Edmonton team has won the Grey Cup 14 times, second only to the Toronto Argonauts’ 17.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.