Edmonton’s football team is back in the news, as the team’s President and CEO flies north as part of fact-finding related to the team name.
This is supposed to be one of at least two trips to the Territories, and follows on a survey to season ticket holders which included questions around the team name. Len Rhodes is asking northern people, primarily those who are Indigenous, if the team name is disrespectful or racist.
The answer, of course, is right in front of Rhodes and the team’s ownership: would they call Inuit people coming to a game “e***mos”? Of course they wouldn’t.
Here’s a quote from Len Rhodes himself: “Most importantly of all was talking to the Inuit community.”
Speaking publicly he calls Indigenous peoples from Canada’s north Inuit. Their preferred term. But he has to fly around to ask if the team name is racist? It boggles the mind.
The stories covering this trip north, and other discussions around the team name, never refer to northern Indigenous peoples as “e***mos” either. Nor does other coverage of Inuk or Inuit communities. The irony is obviously lost on all journalists working in Edmonton newsrooms and for those at national sports outlets.
I don’t get why this seems so difficult.
What a glorious message would be send to our country if @EdmontonEsks changed their name. It would set a new precedent of respect.
— tanya tagaq (@tagaq) August 9, 2017
Inuit and Indigneous peoples have been asking the team to change its name for years. Ending the use of Indigenous peoples as mascots was a recommendation from the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Everyone involved seems to understand to use terms like Inuk and Inuit when referring to people and communities. Just not when it comes to the football team.
This is a decision that shouldn’t yet have to be made. It says something about Edmonton’s whiteness that there isn’t enough leadership at the team, or on its board of directors or from its “community ownership” to hear the request that has been made again. And again. And again.
Much like the rest of the season will prove what kind of team is on the field, we’re going to see a real test of Edmonton community leaders between now and the Grey Cup playoffs. This has to be the last season with the old name.
If folks can’t possibly think of a new name, we’ve got some great options.
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