The complicated history of the now old name of the Edmonton CFL club


Naulaq LeDrew, an Inuit community elder and Toronto-based artist, is happy that the CFL Edmonton team is no longer known as Eskimos.It’s not because she thinks the word is a derogatory term. She doesn’t. It was the lack of connection between the team and the Inuit of Canada that she said was a problem.

“I’m glad they changed their name because I understood they weren’t helping any Inuit back home,” LaDrew said.

Heather Igloliorite is an Inuit researcher from Nunatsiavut, northern Labrador. For Iglorliorite, the word Eskimo has always been offensive, but she says not all Inuit feel the same.

READ MORE: CFL Edmonton Eskimos drop “Eskimo” after team name

“For me, that term has always been tinged with racism. I was called “skimo” when I was a kid… I don’t think there are two ways to consider this respectful term, ”said the Concordia University professor.

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Igloliorite was also happy to hear the CFL Edmonton club’s decision to withdraw his name because on the pitch much of the complicated context surrounding the word and his relationship with the people of the Canadian North was lost.

“I think it hurts our humanity when we are transformed into a mascot,” she said.

The word Eskimo is also closely related to colonialism, something that happened relatively late in some Inuit communities. When LeDrew was born in Apex Hill, Nunavut, she lived a very traditional way of life.

READ MORE: Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Inuit leaders agree to postpone Indian residential school apology due to COVID-19

“I was culturally raised hunting, fishing, camping on the tundra where my parents grew up, until colonization came.

Colonization brought a number of painful policies to Inuit communities. LaDrew and his parents were forced to wear Eskimo ID tags or electronic tags at all times. The brown leather badges bore an identification number and were used by the Canadian government to track and identify members of the Inuit community from 1941 to the 1970s.

“There is a theory that they brought in because maybe it was difficult to pronounce a lot of Inuit names, we also didn’t have a family name system until then,” Igloliorite said. “I think if you asked a lot of Inuit who had numbers, a lot would say it was seen as oppressive. Admittedly, many Inuit saw them as identity tags or serial numbers. “

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Government policies have also forced some Inuit to relocate or go to residential schools. We also wonder if there was a coordinated government or RCMP campaign to kill thousands of Inuit family sled dogs.

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“I witnessed the slaughter of dogs because my father himself had a dog team and what really attracted me was that they hired one of our parents to slaughter our dogs,” says LaDrew, adding that she was six at the time.

“I spoke to elders who said that more than almost any other story, this was the darkest time because it meant that the Inuit could not leave their communities in which they had been settled and had to stay in. city, ”said Igloliorite

LaDrew and Igloliorite admit that the CFL Edmonton club’s name change has been controversial. There has been disagreement about this within the Inuit community as well, but the two hope the name change might spark a conversation and get more people to learn about the lesser-known history of the northerners. Canadian.

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