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Stop, Eskimos, stop: Inuit group takes on Edmonton CFL team

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president: ‘It isn’t right for any for any team to be named after an ethnic group’


 
Vancouver, Canada

(The Canadian Press)

EDMONTON — Canada’s national Inuit organization says the storied Edmonton Eskimos Canadian Football League franchise should change its name.

“It isn’t right for any for any team to be named after an ethnic group,” said Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

The term Eskimo is a relic of a past in which Inuit people had no control over their lives or even what they were called, said Obed.

“This is part of the past. It isn’t part of the present and shouldn’t be part of the future.”

Although questions have been raised about the team’s name before, Inuit groups have always stayed out of it. Obed said it’s time that changed _ especially with the franchise being featured in this weekend’s Grey Cup championship game in Winnipeg.

“With the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action fresh in our minds, all sectors of society should be contributing to the ongoing reconciliation,” said Obed.

Team officials consistently diffused the issue by saying they have never had an official complaint about the name. They could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.

Obed _ who played junior and university level hockey in the U.S. _ said he understands sports fans are passionate about their teams and their history.

“The history can be the history,” he said. “We don’t have to apologize for believing and cheering and saying a name that is now not acceptable.

“But as values in society change, sports values can change, too.”

Although American Inuit continue to use Eskimo, Obed said Canadians left that name behind at about the same time they began negotiating their land claim in the 1970s.

“When we mobilized and decided to fight for our rights, we decided to use the word ‘Inuit,’ because that is our name. No other group of people has the right to tell us who we are and name us.”

The word Eskimo is a vestige of the days when Inuit lives were controlled from the south, said Obed.

“If anyone was to call me an Eskimo, I would be offended by that.”

 


 
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Stop, Eskimos, stop: Inuit group takes on Edmonton CFL team

  1. I disagree that it is not right for a team to call itself after an ethnic group. I would love Edmonton to change their team name to the Edmonton Vikings… after all there are lots of Scandinavians in the Edmonton area. Never understood why they chose Eskimos anyway… there are zero Inuit in Alberta… at least they are not near Edmonton. They should change it… but to a name that people are proud of.

  2. A hundred years ago and more, the Inuit were a proud and tough people living off the land with honour. Now the name of a football team is offensive to some of them. Their ancestors would be so proud.

  3. “The term Eskimo is a relic of a past in which Inuit people had no control over their lives or even what they were called, said Obed.”

    Pretty sure Inuit have always had at least some control over their lives. On the other hand, I can see the point about not being able to control what people call you. For example, people who assert frivolous and baseless grievances face the indignity of having others call them “morons”.

  4. I don’t understand why there are so many negative comments regarding this topic. Inuit have a right to feel uncomfortable with a team using a derogatory term as their name. To Canadian Inuit, “Eskimo” equates to “crackers” or “chinks.” I don’t understand the lack of respect for other ethnic groups in these comments.

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