Edmonton Eskimos to drop Eskimos from name

17 Jul

This, after previously saying that upon consulting with Inuit in Canada’s far north, some of whom had expressed support for the name, they had decided they were going to keep it:

The story of team’s name goes back to stories in the press from at least 1903 and possibly as far back as 1892, the first date of a “rugby football” game between Edmonton and Calgary. It is a legacy of the bitter rivalry between the cities of Edmonton and Calgary, the so-called Battle of Alberta. In the early years of sports competition between the cities, the press in each town used colourful nicknames to insult the rival team’s home. Edmontonian writers called Calgary “the cow camp”, “horse country”, or “the little village beside the Bow”. Likewise Calgary’s responded with insults about Edmonton’s northern latitude and frigid weather, calling the city’s residents “Esquimaux” (an archaic spelling of “Eskimos”, referring to the indigenous people of the Canadian Arctic, properly called Inuit). Despite the fact Edmonton is several thousand kilometres south of the Arctic, the name “had the advantages of alliteration, neatness, uniqueness, and a certain amount of truth,” and thus, according to historian of Edmonton Tony Cashman, “it stuck.” The name remained an unofficial nickname, however, until the arrival in Edmonton of American baseball coach and sports promoter William Deacon White in 1907. White founded the Edmonton Eskimos baseball team in 1909, the football Eskimos in 1910, and Edmonton Eskimos hockey team in 1911. Of the three, only the football teams’ name has survived.

In part because they do not use any native imagery in their team identity, the Eskimos are less often mentioned with regard to the Native American mascot controversy. Natan Obed, the President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Canada’s national Inuit organization, has stated that “Eskimo is not only outdated, it is now largely considered a derogatory term” and is a “relic of colonial power”.[12] Former Eskimos player Andre Talbot stated: “Sports organizations need to be community building organizations. And if we’re isolating and offending part of that community, then our particular organization or league is not doing its job.”[13] After Inuit singer Tanya Tagaq suggested that a name change would show respect, Paula Simons of the Edmonton Journal wrote an editorial pointing out that “Eskimo is a name that never properly belonged to Edmonton at all, a borrowed, appropriated name that disrespects not just the Inuit people, but also the other First Nations who actually did call this territory home”.[14] The editorial board of the Toronto Star sees a name change as the inevitable result of social evolution.[15] In June 2020, Nunavut NDP Member of Parliament Mumilaaq Qaqqaq responded to a tweet from the team regarding racism by saying that if the team wanted to understand racism, it could “start by changing your team name.”[16] Former Eskimos player Andre Talbot, who visited Nunavut as part of the CFL’s celebration of the Grey Cup’s 100th anniversary, has stated that he supports a name change. [17] Support for a name change has also come from the Mayor of Edmonton, Don Iverson, who called for the team to change its name prior to the city hosting the 106th Grey Cup in 2018.[18]

Conversely, there has also been support from members and organizations of the Inuit community in favour of the team retaining the name. In 2019, following the Eskimos’ decision to retain the name, the leaders of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, supported the move and rejected claims that the name is derogatory, citing the fact that the term was created by a First Nations group to describe the Inuit. [19] Several Nunavut MLAs have also spoken out in favour of the name, including Lorne Kusugak, who expressed his pride in the term “eskimo” during a speech in the territorial Legislative Assembly. [20] In a 2017 CBC News article on the name, several members of the Inuit community were interviewed and expressed their support for the name, with some expressing their frustration that the controversy took away attention from “far more pressing issues” that Canadian Inuit face.[21]

In response to Obed’s calls for the team to change its name, the Eskimos organization announced that it would increase its engagement with Canada’s Inuit population. This engagement included holding consultations with Inuit in several Northern communities and sending Eskimos players to represent the team and meet with students in Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk.[22] In February 2020, following a year-long research and engagement program in-person meetings and telephone surveys, the Eskimos announced that they intended to keep the name, citing a lack of consensus in supporting a name change.[23] In the aftermath of increased racial sensitivity following the killing of George Floyd in the United States, sports teams that utilize indigenous iconography – including the Eskimos – came under increased pressure to change their names. While several teams, including the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians announced their intention to review their use of indigenous mascots, the Eskimos initially announced their intention to keep their name based upon the findings of their 2019 research. However, on July 8, 2020, the team released a statement announcing that the name would undergo an internal review, with the results being made public at the end of the month. The team’s statement came after a threat by longtime league sponsor Belair Direct to end its partnership with the CFL unless the name is changed. Other major sponsors, such as Coca-Cola, also expressed concerns with the continued lack of consensus regarding the Eskimos name.[24] The NHL’s first Inuk player, Jordin Tootoo says that he has no personal issue with “Eskimos” but thinks the team should consider changing it.[25]

But, of course, Sportsball everywhere must go Woke – and hopefully broke! 🙂

Come now, don’t ask the impossible! 😉

Sure, let’s rename Toronto, Ottawa, Ontario, and Quebec back to their previous names: York, Bytown, Upper Canada and Lower Canada! 🙂 (Of course, Canada itself would have to go, so let’s call it British North America again, then rename the two provinces accordingly.)

As for Saskatchewan, we could just renamed it FlatRectangleLand. 😉

And then give Manitoba and Winnipeg and all the other aboriginal place names in Canada suitable British and French names, so that we aren’t ‘culturally appropriating’ any more. 😉


9 responses to “Edmonton Eskimos to drop Eskimos from name

  1. Will S.

    July 17, 2020 at 2:27 am

    Eskimo includes both Inuit and Yupik peoples; thus, Inuit are also Eskimos, but not all Eskimos are Inuit.

    Hence this woman is probably a Yupik, and so is happy to identify as Eskimo because she does not want to be confused with Inuit. 🙂

  2. fuzziewuzziebear

    July 17, 2020 at 11:55 am

    Do you get the feeling that they are taking this a bit too far? There was a cartoonist who tried to avoid all this in the seventies, Doonesbury. He made fun of Estonians. They never complained.

    • Will S.

      July 17, 2020 at 12:26 pm

      Any is too far; will there be a big enough backlash to reverse the tide? I hope so, but I doubt anytime soon; ain’t holdin’ my breath.

      Estonians outside Estonia in the 1970s were few in number – they still are, I should think, since Estonia has always been a small country to begin with and so never sent that many sons and daughters forth – and there wasn’t social media and Estonian anti-defamation organizations, like all the ones out there today. 😉

      • fuzziewuzziebear

        July 17, 2020 at 12:35 pm

        At that time, they were still part of the Soviet Union. Now, they are independent and they have an Anti-Defamation League? Do we now have to pick on penguins in the Antarctic?

      • Will S.

        July 17, 2020 at 12:37 pm

        Oh, I was just kidding. But everyone has an advocacy group online, no?

        Penguins Against Anti-Penguin Prejudice, or PAAPP, will come after you! 😉

      • Will S.

        July 17, 2020 at 12:39 pm

        Or perhaps the People And Penguins Allied Against Anti-Penguin Prejudice: PAPAAAPP! 😉

  3. feeriker

    July 20, 2020 at 2:25 am

    Use the Rotating Unilateral Alphabetic Transposition (ROTULAT) cipher to create new names from the old. This is done by moving each consonant in the original word to the next ahead of it, and the original vowel to the next. Examples: “Canada” becomes “Depefe,” “Ottawa” becomes “Uvvexe,” “Toronto” becomes “Vusupvu,” “Winnipeg” = “Xoppoqih,” etcetera. No one can bitch, because the new names are original and aren’t “culturally appropriated” from anyone else. Heck, you could even engage in some reverse culture warfare, accompanied by some middle finger raising, by saying that you prefer concocted new names to the “primitive barbarism” of the “aboriginal” names.


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