The Edmonton-based Canadian Football League team will officially no longer be called the Eskimos following a review of the moniker, the franchise has confirmed.
In a statement, the team announced that some fans have become “increasingly uncomfortable” with the nickname, which is considered by many a derogatory, colonial-era term for Inuits, a group of people who are indigenous to Greenland, Alaska, and Northern Canada.
The club will now undertake a comprehensive engagement process on a new name, which will include research and engagement with season-ticket holders, casual ticket purchasers, and commercial partners.
In the meantime, the club will use the names “EE Football Team” and “Edmonton Football Team.”
“Our team has a long history of winning – both on and off the field – and we will continue to do so going forward,” said Janice Agrios, the team’s board of directors chair, said in a statement. “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 widely-anticipated move took place after the team came under pressure from corporate sponsors to change their nickname. Canadian home and car insurance company Belairdirect said it would drop its sponsorship of the team unless a name change took place. Sports Book Interaction, the team’s official online casino and gaming partner, also demanded a change in the moniker, which has been in place since the team’s inception in 1949.
“Our recent engagement has clearly indicated that attitudes toward the team name have been shifting, and we made the decision based on that,” Agrios told reporters. “Our sponsors made it clear that they support this decision, and we appreciate the ongoing support they will be providing as we work through the implementation of this decision.”
There is not yet a defined timetable to establish a new team name or a shortlist of replacement candidates.
Edmonton’s decision follows that of the National Football League’s Washington Redskins, who are retiring their current nickname and logo to develop a new one after mounting pressure from corporate sponsors, as well as fans, investors, political leaders, and the media.