The Edmonton Eskimos believe its team name is honouring the ability to endure Canadian winter conditions.
Globe and Mail national affairs reporter, Kristy Kirkup obtained a statement from the Esks in the midst of the franchise accelerating its ongoing internal review of their team name.
From Kirkup’s report: Edmonton’s CFL team says its club name invokes “toughness, hardiness and the ability to perform in cold weather,” especially during important fourth-quarter performances in frigid November.
In a statement in response to a query from The Globe and Mail on the origin of its name, the club said some Inuit have stated that the “Edmonton Eskimos’ record of winning Grey Cups in part comes from this toughness.”
Nunavut member of parliament Mumilaaq Qaqqaq was included in Kurkup’s piece. The 27-year-old New Democratic Party representative represents 25 of the 47 Inuit Nunangat communities — lands, waters and ices of the Inuit — in Canada.
“I don’t understand how in this day and age that we are having a conversation and we are treating it like a debate. For the record, this shouldn’t be a debate,” Qaqqaq said.
“It is time to get your act together and to do your part and contribute to being able to look at equality for racialized individuals.”
The Eskimos have come under increased scrutiny since the NFL’s Washington franchise announced the team will be retiring the Redskins name and logo. That followed withdrawals of prominent sponsors, including Nike removing all team apparel from its websites and stores. FedEx, the title sponsor of Washington’s home field, also requested a name change.
Friday, July 3, the Eskimos stated the team would not be changing its moniker. Siting the fact the club has spent time up north consulting with members of the Inuit community and found there was “no consensus” among Inuit regarding their name. After an ultimatum from major sponsor Belairdirect, the Esks shifted their stance. The Eskimos sent a survey to fans regarding a potential name change.
“Straw polls on racism are unethical and undermine Indigenous peoples’ self-determination in this country,” Natan Obed, president of Canada’s national Inuit organization, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, told Kirkup. He added it is clear Inuit didn’t name the team.
“The survey is attempting to create an honourable origin story and a myth about those who named the team. This is a corporation that has decided to use an ethnicity as its moniker. That was wrong then and it is wrong now.”