Edmonton’s CFL team refuses to comment on report of name change

Team under pressure from sponsors, advocates to change name

Edmonton’s CFL team won’t comment on a TSN report that team brass have made the call to change its controversial name, with an announcement coming next week.

TSN says the team has made an “internal decision” to drop the name, which a spokesperson from the team would neither confirm nor deny.

“The team has no updates at this time,” Rose Mary Phillip, vice president of marketing and communications, said in an email. “The team is not commenting on the TSN report either.”

If the team does decide to change the name, it will come after at least two major sponsors said they’ll pull their money.

Earlier this week, Edmonton closed a survey on the team’s controversial name, which was initially targeted at “key audiences and shareholders” but was also open to the public.

The survey was supposed to help decide if they should keep the team name, called racist and offensive in the wake of Black and Indigenous lives matter demonstrations in the U.S. and Canada.

When the team launched the survey on Monday, Twitter users were outraged. The questions were biased and leading, they said.

“Do you believe that when the name was originally chosen, the intent was to be disrespectful of Inuit or Indigenous people?” one question read.

This is not Edmonton’s first survey. They sent delegates to Inuit communities in October 2019 to ask what the people thought of the name.

They recently released the results in this year’s annual report.

Seventy-eight per cent opposed the name change in the western Arctic. In Nunavut, 55 per cent opposed the change. In the eastern Arctic, 69 per cent said keep the name, according to the report.

Not very convincing for Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, member of parliament for Nunavut.

“If a CFL team who makes a lot of money off a derogatory term that Inuit and our ancestors have faced for decades, then really where are we in 2020?” said Qaqqaq, who is Inuk from Baker Lake.

“And, what does that mean for our future? Right now there is a huge opportunity to shift how we perceive stereotypes and assumptions of indigenous peoples and Inuit.”

Jordin Tootoo is retired now. But he was the first Inuk to crack an NHL lineup, playing in the league for 723 games over 15 seasons.

“The name of Edmonton Eskimos is not objectionable to me. This does not mean they should keep the name. But, I think the discussion should be around how the Inuk people feel about it. Some might feel pride. Some might feel hurt. Either way, that is the group that should be consulted.” Tootoo said in a statement.

Washington’s NFL team is dropping their name and logo after pressure from advocates and activists – and because major sponsors said they would pull their money if they didn’t make the change.

In Edmonton, the latest survey went up one day, and was gone the next.

The team says the results of their one-day review will be published in two weeks.

-With with files from Darrell Stranger and Michelle Karlenzig

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