NEWS
07/03/2020 16:03 EDT | Updated 07/03/2020 16:11 EDT

Washington Redskins Set To Change Racist Name, But The Edmonton Eskimos Won’t

The Edmonton Eskimos say they will not immediately change their name despite calls from fans.

John E. Sokolowski via Getty Images
Edmonton Eskimos helmets lined up during a warm-up against the Toronto Argonauts at BMO field in Toronto on Sept. 16, 2017.

The Washington Redskins likely won’t be called that for much longer.

On Friday, the NFL football team announced in a statement it will be undergoing a thorough “review” of their controversial name “in light of recent events around our country and feedback from [the] community.”

It looks like the racist slur “Redskins” against Indigenous Americans is finally on its way out in Washington D.C. But what does that mean for other racist team names, particularly one north of the border here in Canada? 

WATCH: Redskins sponsor FedEx calls on team to change name. Story continues below. 

 

Not much, as the Edmonton Eskimos released a statement Friday saying the team will not immediately change its name. The term is a racist expression that refers to Indigenous people from the North, historically used by European colonizers.

In February of this year, the team previously announced it would not change its name following consultations with Inuit leaders and other figures in the North.

“We heard a wide range of views, ranging from individuals within the Inuit community who were very supportive of the name, and some [who] weren’t as supportive,” Janice Agrios, chairwoman of the team’s board, told the Canadian Press at the time.

In Friday’s statement however, the team acknowledged the “increased attention” to the name recently.

“We will ramp up our ongoing engagement with the Inuit communities to assess their views,” the team wrote.

In early June, the team drew criticism for posting a statement in solidarity with Black Lives Matter movements, despite keeping its racist name.

Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq called the team out on Twitter, noting that “if you really “seek to understand” start by changing your team name.”

The Washington football team news this week prompted many fans to call for the Edmonton team name to follow suit.  

In 2017, a national survey found 57 per cent of Canadians thought the team’s name was acceptable. But research shows racist team names and mascots continue to be harmful to Inidgenous people. 

A study published last month in the journal “Race, Ethnicity and Education” found a slew of negative psychosocial effects from racist and anti-Indigenous sports team names and mascots.

The study’s authors found that using Indigenous people as sports mascots was “psychologically detrimental” to Indigenous students and promoted harmful stereotypes about Indigenous people. 

 “It is past time to eliminate Native American mascots in educational (and other) settings,” they wrote. 

The move to change the Washington team name comes now following intense pressure from investors and sponsors. FedEx, which owns naming rights to the team’s stadium, demanded it change its name earlier this week. Other companies including PepsiCo and Nike also demanded the team change its name, and Nike appeared to remove all Redskins apparel from its website.