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Edmonton CFL team sticking with Edmonton Eskimos, will increase engagement with Inuit community

Edmonton Eskimos to keep team name
WATCH: After much debate, the Edmonton Eskimos are keeping their name, at least for the time being. But, the team is also doubling down on building relationships with Canada's Inuit. Sarah Ryan has more.

The Edmonton Eskimos are sticking with their name.

The club made the announcement Friday morning, but said it would be “increasing its engagement with Canada’s north.”

The announcement comes after a year-long research program with Inuit leaders and communities across Canada, the team said in a media release.

READ MORE: Potential Edmonton Eskimos name change is not imminent

According to the club, the program included meetings with Inuit and community leaders in Iqaluit, Inuvik, Yellowknife and Ottawa.

The club says there were a “range of views” regarding the team name, but no consensus emerged to support a name change. Therefore, the club has decided the team will remain the Edmonton Eskimos.

“In the western Arctic, the opinions are very, very supportive; probably consistent or close to what our season ticket’s holders would feel,” said Janice Agrios, chair of the board of directors. “In other parts of the Arctic, the opinions are different.”

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Agrios said the club has found the team has more fans in the western Arctic than the east as well.

Janice Agrios, the chair of the Edmonton Eskimos board of directors, speaks with Global News on Feb. 14, 2020.
Janice Agrios, the chair of the Edmonton Eskimos board of directors, speaks with Global News on Feb. 14, 2020. Dave Carels/Global News

There was also a research phase with a combination of in-depth interviews with Inuit across the north and in Edmonton and a telephone survey among a “broad” group of Inuit across Canada.

Agrios said this brings to an end the “formal” research the club had planning on the topic of the team’s name, but that the team will continue to listen to all opinions around the subject.

“We have listened to all opinions and we’ll continue to listen to all opinions. We know not everyone agrees.”

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Agrios said one of the insights the club received during the research phase was a desire from many northern communities to increase engagement with the club.

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“As a result, we have invested the time and resources to create a Northern Community Engagement Program and will continue to engage with Inuit leaders and community members to strengthen the ties between the club and the Inuit community.”

The club says the Northern Community Engagement Program held school visits in Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk in October 2019 and seven communities in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region have asked about holding similar programming in their communities.

READ MORE: Edmonton Eskimos president not committing to name change after northern tour

Players and other representatives will be in Norman Wells — a town in the Northwest Territories — in March for a one-day school visit and a two-day youth gathering.

“Since launching the Northern Community Engagement Program, we have been warmly welcomed in the communities that we have visited,” Agrios said. “The consistent message was ‘come back and come more often.’ We are the CFL’s most northern team and we want to continue to build our relationship with the Inuit community.”

WATCH BELOW: (July 3, 2018): The club has said it uses the name Eskimos out of respect for people living in Canada’s North. Eskimos president Len Rhodes spoke to Kevin Karius about a recent public consultation he took part in to discuss the name.

Edmonton Eskimos president discusses public consultations on team’s name
Edmonton Eskimos president discusses public consultations on team’s name

The discussion around the team’s name has been going on for years and former president Len Rhodes toured a number of northern communities last summer. After returning, he didn’t commit one way or another.

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