Sinclair said a name like that has a profound impact on young indigenous people. "I can't imagine how comfortable they would feel knowing the major team in their town is called that," said Sinclair, who pointed to the Washington National Football League team with the same name. "They've been told by a number of legal entities to stop doing it, but they're still fighting for it." The Washington blowup initially raised some questions about whether the Canadian Football League Edmonton Eskimos should change their name, but a team spokesman quickly squelched the idea. "We have no backlash from our fans or politicians or any other sort," team spokesman Allan Watt said in June 2014. An Inuk lawyer who played with the team briefly in the 1950s backed Watt up. "I don't know what the problem is with having us called the Edmonton Eskimos," said Kiviaq, formerly known as David Ward. "It wasn't meant to be derogatory at all. We ... should be proud of it." However, several Canadian junior and high school teams did opt to change their names last year following public concern. The Nepean Redskins youth football team in Ottawa changed its name to the Nepean Eagles after a human rights complaint.
"People need to re-examine their behaviour — all aspects of their behaviour — the way they are doing business." — Justice Murray Sinclair
Calgary high school changed nameThe Western Canada High School in Calgary dropped its Redmen name and logo after consulting with school board elders. It cost the board $200,000 to repaint the gym and order new uniforms. Two Saskatchewan school teams also called Redmen changed their names as well. Regina's Balfour Collegiate team is now called the Bears and Bedford Road Collegiate in Saskatoon switched to Redhawks. In the United States, Adidas has announced it will help high schools who want to change their mascot by offering free design resources and financial support. It's estimated there are about 2,000 schools in the States with outdated indigenous mascots or symbols. The move was praised by Oneida group Change The Mascot, which has led the protest against the Washington Redskins. Ending "the use of the R-word is not going away, but is instead gaining momentum as people understand the damaging impacts of this racial slur," the group said in a statement. A spokesperson for Adidas Canada said the company can't comment on plans to extend the program north of the border. The initiative would take away any financial argument for those resisting a name change, Sinclair said. "It boils it back down to the real issue — (whether) they want to cling to that more pejorative expression or not."