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Eskimos not changing their name after consultations with Inuit: CEO

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Edmonton Eskimos president and CEO Len Rhodes says the team will not be changing the team’s name – at least for now – after consulting stakeholders in Inuit communities in the Northwest Territories.

“It’s premature to talk about scenarios down the road. Right now, at this point in time, we have no plans to change our name,” Rhodes told the CBC. “But I think there are loads of opportunities in terms of things we can do with the community, even with our current name.

“We wanted to speak to the people in the northern communities, the Inuit communities specifically, and to have a direct conversation. It was seen as a sign of respect to have taken the time to go up there and meet them in person.”

Some Inuit leaders say the term Eskimo, which means “eaters of raw meat,” is derogatory and was given to their people by others. They say it’s a relic from days when northern Indigenous people had no control over their fate or even the name by which they were known.

“Inuit are not monikers. Inuit are not mascots,” said Natan Obed, head of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Canada’s national Inuit group. Obed raised the issue three years ago.

“The use of that term in Canada and the use of that term as a moniker for a professional sports team outside our society is not acceptable,”

Rhodes says the team plans to continue its consultations

“There are those that say it’s irrelevant and there are those that say it’s worse than that. But there are many people who feel the name is OK and it’s actually one that they’re proud of being associated with,” Rhodes said. “It’s the first step in a long process. It’s the starting point, but certainly not the end point.”

– with files from the CBC and CP

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