The Edmonton Eskimos will be increasing its engagement in Canada’s north following an extensive year-long formal research and engagement program with Inuit leaders and community members across Canada.
The research and engagement program primarily revolved around the club’s name. This program included meetings with Inuit leaders and community leaders in Iqaluit, Inuvik, Yellowknife and Ottawa; and a research phase with a combination of in-depth interviews with Inuit across the north and in Edmonton, plus a telephone survey among a broad group of Inuit across Canada.
The consistent feedback was a desire for more engagement with the club. There were a range of views regarding the club’s name but no consensus emerged to support a name change. The club has therefore decided to retain its name.
“The research program provided the club with many insights. A key learning for us was the desire of northern communities to increase the club’s engagement with them,” said Janice Agrios, chair of the board of directors.
As a result, we have invested the time and resources to create a Northern Community Engagement Program and will continue to engage with Inuit leaders and community members to strengthen the ties between the club and the Inuit community.”
To date, the Northern Community Engagement Program has held school visits in Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk in October 2019, hosted the Youth Service Award winners in October 2019 and participated in the Inuvik Sunrise Festival in January 2020.
Seven communities in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region have asked about holding similar programming in their communities. The club is scheduled to have players and other representatives in Norman Wells in early March 2020 for a one-day school visit and two-day youth gathering and will work with other northern communities to develop similar programs.
“Since launching the Northern Community Engagement Program, we have been warmly welcomed in the communities that we have visited. The consistent message was ‘come back and come more often’,” Agrios said.
“We are the CFL’s most northern team and we want to continue to build our relationship with the Inuit community. This is a very important initiative for us.”