Updated: Jul 23
Numerous sports teams are under fire right now for names that could be deemed offensive to different people, including the Cleveland Indians, the Washington Redskins, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Edmonton Eskimos. The Eskimos have recently reopened their investigation to dig a little deeper into the name and the thoughts and feelings of Inuit people, as have other teams with the particular group of people who the name would offend.
“We acknowledge and appreciate the feedback and input regarding our name,” said the Eskimos in a statement released on their social media platforms. “We take the issue seriously as has been demonstrated by the three years we've spent engaging in Canada’s north and conducting research related to our name. We recognize that a lot has occurred since this information was gathered, and as a result, we are accelerating our ongoing process of review. We will be seeking further input from the Inuit, our partners and other shareholders to inform our decisions going forward. We’ll continue to listen carefully with an open mind. We intend to complete our review as quickly as possible and will provide an update on these discussions by the end of the month.”
It is certainly a lofty promise for the organization to make such an impactful decision within the month, but it is certainly commendable for them to be taking this so seriously. It is encouraging to see the organization taking this issue to heart and talking to the people who would be affected by this name.
This is a decision that needs to be made in consultation with the Inuit people. One of the groups who represent the Inuit people is “Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami”. Their president, Natan Obed had this to say about the name.
“Inuit are not mascots,” he said. “We are not playthings for professional sports franchises. The idea that any ethnicity is a mascot or a moniker for a for-profit corporation is over. We see indigenous people rising up and saying that this is outdated, it is offensive and needs to stop. The moniker, as it is used by the Edmonton CFL corporation, is racist.”
This is one of the sides, but how about the other side? Jordin Tootoo, an Inuit, released a statement on his Twitter account. You can find the full statement here.
“The name of the Edmonton Eskimos is not objectionable to me,” said Tootoo. “This does not mean that they should keep the name, but, I think the discussion should be around how the Inuk people feel about it. Some might feel pride, some might feel hurt. Either way, that is the group that should be consulted.”
From where the Eskimos go from here, no one knows. It is interesting to note that they have branded themselves as if to make a seamless transition over the Edmonton Empire should a situation arise where they need to change the name. They have been using the hashtag of #OneEmpire for the last couple of seasons, so that could be an option for them.
As Jordin Tootoo said, the decision needs to be made in conjecture with the Inuit. If they from there decide that the name is okay to keep, that is something that needs to be respected. If they go the other way, that would also need to be respected.