EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — The Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League reportedly will change their name. The team would not confirm the two reports.
TSN and Postmedia said Friday the team will make a switch following a decision to do the same by Washington’s NFL team.
“We acknowledge and appreciate the feedback and input regarding our name,” the team said in a statement. “We take this 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 stakeholders to inform our decisions moving forward. We’ll continue to listen carefully and 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 this month.”
Teams across sports have been under increasing pressure to drop racist or stereotypical names. Critics say the Edmonton team’s name is a derogatory, colonial-era term for Inuit.
Aaron Paquette, a city councilor in Edmonton, tweeted that he had an “extremely productive” meeting with the club Thursday. He said he was “very impressed with the potential coming out of our conversation.”
In February, the club said it was keeping the name following yearlong research that involved Inuit leaders and community members across Canada. The club said it received “no consensus.”
On July 8, the club promised to speed another review and provide an update by the end of the month.
One of the team’s sponsors, national car-and-home insurance provider Belairdirect, is rethinking its relationship with the club because of the name. Other sponsors also said they would welcome a review.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson has said the team should take steps toward a change.
The CFL in June postponed the start of its 2020 season because of the pandemic, and there is no guarantee the league will play this year.
Although American Inuit continue to use the word Eskimo, Canada’s northern people left that name behind about the same time they began negotiating their land claim in the 1970s.
Founded in 1949, the Edmonton team has won the Grey Cup 14 times, second only to the Toronto Argonauts at 17.