New era for the Edmonton Football Team as fresh name process begins

For the time being, Edmonton’s CFL franchise will be known as the EE Football Team or Edmonton Football Team.

Take your pick.

Board of directors chair Janice Agrios and president Chris Presson made it official: Edmonton has retired the Eskimos nickname and started the process for choosing a new one. Edmonton wants to retain the green and gold colours along with its double-E logo.

“That’s our intent. Certainly have to walk through the process and make sure that’s feasible, but that is definitely our intent. We understand the meaning of both of those — colours and the emblem — to our fans, to our community and certainly don’t want to disrupt that,” Presson said.

The new name selection process is being developed, Presson stated the team will take time to come up with a way to incorporate fans and partners to get it right: hardiness, intelligence and resilience will be at the core of the new moniker. If there happens to be a shortened season played amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Edmonton won’t have the new name in place.

“We will play as the EE Football Team, what uniform we will wear is yet to be determined. Our hope is that we can get to that point where we’re having that discussion about which uniform to wear because we do have a season,” Presson said.

It’s going to cost north of $1 million for rebranding the Edmonton Football Team. That comes at the same time as the CFL explores a hub city model for potential games in 2020 which would be “an initial sizeable loss” for Edmonton’s franchise — if the league finds a way to play.

Away from the playing field, two of the 12 current premier corporate partners, Belairdirect and Sports Interaction delivered ultimatums: change the name or their sponsorships would be gone. Following the pointed messages, Edmonton accelerated its ongoing internal review of the team name. However, Agrios stated “no one event” led to discontinuing the use of the word Eskimo in the team’s name.

“Our recent engagement has clearly indicated that attitudes toward the team name have been shifting and we made the decision based on that,” Agrios said.

Nunavut member of parliament Mumilaaq Qaqqaq was vocal in wanting the name changed. 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. She was pleased with the announcement as a leading Inuit advocate.

“Our intent is to engage in the northern communities. Around our name and those discussions, we have engaged them through the process throughout the last three years around our name specifically, it would make sense for us to have those same conversations around a new name as well,” Presson said.

The Edmonton Football Team felt the pressure from those who perceived the former nickname as a derogatory term and moved on.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.