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Edmonton Eskimos re-affirm name after Washington football team wavers

Edmonton Eskimos to keep team name
(Feb. 14, 2020) 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 have released another statement saying the club will be ramping up consultation with the Inuit community after the Washington Redskins said it will be conducting a “thorough review” of its name.

The Redskins made the announcement Friday afternoon after FedEx, one of the NHL’s biggest sponsors and the sponsor of the Redskins’ arena, released a Thursday statement that read: “We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.”

Read more: Washington Redskins announce ‘thorough review’ of name after criticism from FedEx

The company paid the team $205 million in 1999 for the naming rights to FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

In February, the Eskimos said its research and engagement program “included meetings with Inuit leaders and community leaders in Iqaluit, Inuvik, Yellowknife and Ottawa; and 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.”

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FedEx calls on the Washington Redskins to change their name
FedEx calls on the Washington Redskins to change their name

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

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

On Friday, the team tweeted the findings of that review again, along with a new promise for more engagement.

“We recognize there has been increased attention to the name recently and we will ramp up our ongoing engagement with the Inuit communities to assess their views.”

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In June, Nunuvat MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq joined The Ryan Jespersen Show as one of many voices that urged the team to change its name after the Eskimos tweeted a message of support following George Floyd’s death.

If we can’t even get a football team to respect us enough as a group of people, then how can we expect to actually get respect elsewhere if this term Eskimo is going to keep on being used?Qaqqaq said.

She weighed in on the debate once again on Friday.

“The fact that there was NO CONSENSUS (sic) means CHANGE THE NAME (sic),” she wrote. “I look forward to hearing from you as the member of parliament for 25 of 47 Inuit Nunangat communities.”

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Read more: Nunavut MP calls on Eskimos to change name after club tweets support for George Floyd protests

Responses to the team’s statement on Friday were varied on Twitter.

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The debate around the team name is one that has been ongoing for years but was hotly contested in November 2017. After Winnipeg’s mayor suggested Edmonton’s CFL team should have a more “inclusive” name, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson called for a “conversation” around the name. According to a poll about a week later, 12 per cent of Albertans surveyed said the name was unacceptable.

– With files from Meaghan Wray, Global News and The Canadian Press