The Edmonton Eskimos defeated the Ottawa Redblacks 26-20 on Sunday to take their first Grey Cup since 2005, but even as fans celebrate the win critics protest the team’s name, calling it “racist” to use the Inuit people as “mascots.”
The Edmonton Globe And Mail called the win a “thrilling comeback.” It was a “feel-good story of the week,” the paper said.
Deadspin also reported that the Eskimos won in a great come back performance: “Edmonton crawled back from an early 13-0 deficit to take a 17-16 lead into halftime. Ottawa’s field goal and a trade of rouges… gave the Redblacks a two-point lead, but Jordan Lynch, the former Northern Illinois quarterback who tried converting to running back for the Chicago Bears but didn’t make the team, scored the game-winning touchdown on a one-yard dive. A two-point conversion sealed Edmonton’s championship.”
“It’s certainly special,” starting quarterback Mike Reilly said. “It’s something that I’ll never take for granted. It’s memories that I’m happy I’ll have for the rest of my life.”
But not everyone was celebrating the win.
Natan Obed, the President of Canada’s national Inuit organization, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, penned an op ed at The Globe And Mail, scolding the team over its name and saying that the “Inuit are not mascots.”
“As the leader of the 60,000 Canadian Inuit in this country,” Obed wrote on November 27, “I am compelled to take a stand in solidarity with all other Indigenous peoples calling for an end to the use of our peoples as sports team mascots. For Inuit, our concern is with Edmonton’s CFL team, which continues to use the outdated term Eskimos as their moniker.”
Obed went on to say that “the word Eskimo is not only outdated, it is now largely considered a derogatory term.” He also insisted that the word “Eskimo” has never been a word that the Inuit used for themselves.
The activist went on to say that the name was offensive.
“The Edmonton team name… was not chosen by Inuit. And I reject any arguments that the name is benign and has positive intent to align the Edmonton football team culture with Inuit strength or spirit,” Obed wrote.
“The CFL football team does not honour our culture, our history, our present, or our future. The name is an enduring relic of colonial power,” Obed said.
Obed then called for the media to “stop using the term Eskimos” just as some are protesting the use of the name “Redskins” in Washington D.C.
“Let’s do our part in the world of sports to help move away from all dehumanizing and disrespectful legacies of the past and move towards true and lasting reconciliation,” Obed concluded. “Indigenous people and our cultures deserve to be treated with dignity, equality and respect just as much on the field of play as anywhere else in 2015.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com