So after McGill dropped their “Redmen” nickname over concerns surrounding its racial connotations, it was inevitable that some pointed questions were going to be asked about the viability of the CFL’s Edmonton franchise continuing to use “Eskimos.”
On Monday, there was a report from the boys over at the Piffles Podcast that said that the Eskimos “may not be known as the Edmonton Eskimos for very much longer.”
From the piece:
“According to unnamed sources, the Edmonton Football Club is 2 years in to a long term plan to change their name from the Edmonton Eskimos to the Edmonton Empire. The name change is part of a gradual roll out that included the “One Empire” marketing campaign.
A trademark look also suggests this to be the case, as the team trademarked the name “Edmonton Empire” in early 2018.”
The possibility of an imminent name change was quickly shot down on Twitter by Dave Campbell, part of the team’s radio duo and a guy as plugged into the franchise as anyone.
Just had a conversation with a spokesperson for the #Eskimos Research and conversations have taken place over the last 2 years and continue to take place with Inuit leaders,#Esks fans, and season-ticket holders. There's nothing imminent as far as name change is concerned. #CFL
— Dave Campbell (@Dave_CHED) April 15, 2019
Dan Ralph at the Canadian Press has since filed a story that offers up quotes from Allan Watt, a marketing and communications official with the team, who reiterates what former president Len Rhodes said last summer: that they are doing research on the long-term viability of the name but that a change wasn’t in the immediate future. From Ralph’s story:
“We’ve been doing many phases of research and been up north and done extensive research there,” Watt said. “It was not about changing our name. It was asking (Inuit leaders) about how they feel about our name. And there’s a big difference between the two.”
The most interesting thing about the Piffles report, however – and an element that neither Campbell or Ralph address – is that the team quietly registered the “Edmonton Empire” trademark in March of 2018.
What does that mean? Maybe nothing. But it also indicates that the franchise is making a contingency plan if and when the day comes that they feel compelled to change the name. And while it might not be happening tomorrow, it sure does feel like that day is, eventually, on its way.