CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos announce they’ll be retaining their team name

edmonton-eskimos-helmets-on-a-football-field

Helmets belonging to members of the Edmonton Eskimos sit on the field during a team practice in Winnipeg. (John Woods/CP)

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Eskimos are keeping their team name.

The CFL franchise announced Friday it was keeping the Eskimos moniker following “an extensive year-long formal research and engagement program with Inuit leaders and community members across Canada.”

“The consistent feedback was a desire for more engagement with the club,” the Eskimos said in a statement. “There were a range of views regarding the club’s name but no consensus emerged to support a name change.

“The club has therefore decided to retain its name.”

However, the Eskimos didn’t divulge specific results of its program.

Also on Friday, the NFL’s Washington Redskins announced they were undergoing a “thorough review” of their nickname. In a statement, the club said recent events in the United States and feedback from the community prompted the review.

The Eskimos said their 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.”

Janice Agrios, the chair of Edmonton’s board of directors, said the survey was a learning experience.

“The research program provided the club with many insights,” Agrios said in a statement. “A key learning for us was the desire of northern communities to increase the club’s engagement with them.

“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 CFL club said the engagement program held school visits in Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk in October 2019 while also hosting the Youth Service Award winners that month. It also participated in the Inuvik Sunrise Festival in January.

The Edmonton club added seven communities in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region have asked about holding similar programming.

“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. This is a very important initiative for us.”

The franchise says it will be “increasing its engagement in Canada’s north,” but again didn’t provide specific details.

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