Edmonton of the CFL decides to drop Eskimos, change its name

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EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — The Edmonton Eskimos will change their name.

The Canadian Football League team announced the decision on Tuesday, following a decision to do the same by Washington’s NFL team.

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.

The team said in a release it will begin “a comprehensive engagement process” on a new name. In the meantime, the club will use the names EE Football Team and Edmonton Football Team.

Edmonton team president Chris Presson said in a video conference that the club wants to keep its double-E logo, as well as its green-and-gold colors.

In February, the Edmonton club announced it was keeping the name following year-long research that involved Inuit leaders and community members across Canada. The club said it received “no consensus” during that review.

On July 8, Edmonton promised to speed up another review of its name and provide an update by the end of the month. In that statement, the club noted “a lot has happened” since it made the decision in February.

One of the team’s sponsors, national car-and-home insurance provider Belairdirect, had announced a day earlier that it was rethinking its relationship with the team because of the name.

Other sponsors also said they would welcome a review of the name.

All this happened as NFL’s Washington team said it would undergo a thorough review of its name. A similar announcement was made by Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians.

It is unclear when Edmonton would play its first game with a new name. The CFL in June postponed the start of its 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and there is no guarantee the league will play this year.

There have been repeated calls in the past for the Edmonton team to change its name.

Canada’s national Inuit organization in 2015 said it was time for a change.

“It isn’t right for any team to be named after an ethnic group,” said Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which represents Canada’s 60,000 Inuit. Obed has said that Inuit people are not mascots.

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.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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