CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos Likely to Follow Washington’s NFL Franchise in Changing Name

The reckoning of racist team names extends across borders into Canada. (Edmonton Eskimos)

The Edmonton Eskimos, one of nine teams competing in the Canadian Football League (CFL), plans to change its name, according to sources and reported by TSN. No final statement from the team confirming the change has been made; however, on July 8th, the team noted “we take this issue seriously as has been demonstrated by the three years we’ve spent engaging in Canada’s north and conducting research related to our name.”

“We recognize that a lot has occurred since this information was gathered, and as a result, we are accelerating our ongoing process of review,” they continued. “We will be seeking further input from the Inuit, our partners and other stakeholders to inform our decisions moving forward. We’ll continue to listen carefully and with an open mind.”

“We intend to complete our review as quickly as possible and will provide an update on these decisions by the end of this month,” the team concluded.

The move from Edmonton comes just weeks after Washington’s NFL team announced that it would be changing its name and logo, long considered a racial slur and caricature of Native Americans. Both the Washington and Edmonton franchises came under pressure from sponsors and advertisers to make changes, including FedEx, which pays for naming rights to Washington’s home stadium.

In Major League Baseball, the Cleveland Indians are also undergoing a review to evaluate their team’s name while others in baseball and beyond, including the Atlanta Braves, Chicago Blackhawks, and Kansas City Chiefs, do not appear to have any such plans in the immediate future.

“The movement to eradicate the use of racial slurs and stereotypes across the board — from professional sports teams to schools — is not separate from business,” Native Business Executive Editor Carmen Davis wrote in a recent Letter from the Editor. “If we can be denigrated and reduced to a stereotype and dumbed down to a character, then we’ve lost control of every conversation and how we enter it.”

“When we demand the takedown of derogatory names, when we refuse to be marginalized by a racial slur or image, we reclaim our narrative,” Davis continued. “When we reclaim how we’re portrayed, we empower a better future for Indian Country and this entire nation.”

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