Edmonton CFL Team Drops 'Eskimos' From Name

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Edmonton's Canadian Football League team will drop "Eskimos" from its name, the organization announced Tuesday. 

The 14-time Grey Cup champions said in a release that the team will "be known as the Edmonton Football Team or the EE Football Team" while it decides on a new name.

“Our team has a long history of winning – both on and off the field – and we will continue to do so going forward,” Janice Agrios, Chair of the Board of Directors, said in a press release. “We feel it is important to make this change in response to the findings of our recent engagement and research. Going forward, we want the focus to be on the work we do in the community and our team’s excellence on the field as the CFL’s most successful franchise.”

The team said it has been involved in a three-year research and engagement process regarding the name change that included team partners and members of the Inuit community. The latest announcement comes three weeks after the team said "no consensus emerged to support a name change," the Associated Press reported on July 3. 

"Eskimo" is considered an outdated, offensive term used against the Inuit people of Canada. In 2015, Natan Obed, the President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Canada's national Inuit organization, wrote an op-ed in The Globe and Mail calling on Edmonton to drop the name. 

"The word Eskimo is not only outdated, it is now largely considered a derogatory term. It has never been our term," Obed said in the piece. "When Inuit mobilized in the 1970s to protect our rights, we started using the term Inuit to describe our people because that is our way of describing ourselves. No other society has a right to impose their terminology upon us."

"The Edmonton team name - that is drawing even more attention, now that the team is going to the Grey Cup - was not chosen by Inuit. And I reject any arguments that the name is benign and has positive intent to align the Edmonton football team culture with Inuit strength or spirit."

Edmonton's announcement comes a week after the Washington football team said it was changing its name. The EE Football Team had used its previous name since it joined the CFL in 1949. 

The team finished last season 8-10, good for fourth in the West Division. Edmonton clinched a crossover playoff spot and beat the Montreal Alouettes 37-29 in the semi-finals before falling to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the eastern final

The CFL has not yet announced when it will return amid the coronavirus pandemic, though TSN reported in early July that the Canadian Football League has an initial return to play proposal for the CFL Players' Association.