Despite criticism, 57 per cent of Canadians find Edmonton Eskimos name 'acceptable': survey
Published Friday, November 17, 2017 10:03PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, November 18, 2017 2:03PM EST
The term “Eskimo” is widely considered an ethnic slur by Inuit people, but a majority of Canadians don’t have a problem with the branding of the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos, according to a new survey.
Research released Thursday by Insights West, a Vancouver-based marketing research company, found that 21 per cent of Canadians find the football team’s name and logo unacceptable, while 57 per cent found it acceptable. Another 23 per cent said they were undecided.
Even fewer Albertans took issue with the logo, the poll found, with 71 per cent considering the franchise “acceptable” while 12 per cent disagreed.
The findings were released one week after Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson urged the team to take steps toward changing its name. Ideally, Iveson said the team would reach out to the public and find a new name before the Grey Cup is held in Edmonton next year.
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman has also called on the team to opt for a more inclusive name.
Several leaders within the Inuit community openly oppose the team’s name. Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, has called on the team to listen to Inuit communities and make the change.
The word “Eskimo” was widely believed to be of Algonquin origin and mean “eaters of raw meat,” but some scholars have suggested that it actually comes from the Innu-aimun language and means “one who laces snowshoes.”
Inuit do not use the word Eskimo to describe themselves, and many say use of the outdated term perpetuates negative stereotypes.
Former Assembly of First Nations Chief Phil Fontaine agreed that the team should rebrand.
“Eskimo is not a term of endearment for the Inuit people,” Fontaine told CTV Edmonton. “An important start for changing the way we view such matters of course would be to change the name.”
In response to Iveson’s statements last week, the Eskimos said they were “actively engaged” in listening to concerns.
"Those conversations are ongoing and we are keenly listening to all input including from our loyal season seat holders and fans," the team said in a statement.
The survey also found that Millennials (33 per cent), Ontarians (27 per cent), women (24 per cent) and voters who supported Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in the 2015 election (26 per cent) were more inclined to oppose the name.
Canadians responded similarly to the NFL’s Washington Redskins, according to the survey, with 27 per cent calling the name unacceptable. Another 19 per cent took issue with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks.
Historians say the team’s name likely originated from a friendly rivalry between Calgary and Edmonton. Local sports journalists were known to refer to Calgary as “the cow camp” or “horse country,” and Calgarians shot back by calling Edmontonians “Eskimos” -- a jab at the city’s cold weather.
The team first joined the CFL in 1949.
Mario Canseco, vice president of Insights West, said there was one suggestion during the survey that made him laugh.
“(Someone) said as long as you don’t call it Roughriders, you can change the name of the Eskimos, because the last thing we need is another team named Roughriders,” Canseco said.
The poll surveyed 1,005 Canadian adults between Oct. 24 and Oct. 26. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points for the entire sample, nineteen times out of twenty. The findings were statistically weighted to reflect age, gender and regional differences based on the Canadian census.
With files from The Canadian Press and CTV Edmonton