After consultations with fans, players, and coaches, Edmonton's CFL team has announced it will move forward as the Edmonton Elks. The rebrand will include updated merchandise and a new team logo.
What prompted the change?
- "Edmonton's CFL franchise dropped the name Eskimos last year. It followed a similar decision by the NFL's Washington team as pressure mounts on teams to eliminate racist or stereotypical names," reported CBC News.
- "The decision comes following a review by the franchise after it twice opted to maintain its team name. The Eskimos moniker has been tied to sports teams in Edmonton since the 19th century but critics say the name is derogatory and a colonial-era term for Inuit," Sportsnet wrote after the team's announcement in 2020.
- "It isn't right for any team to be named after an ethnic group," Natan Obed said in 2015. He is president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatam, which represents more than 60,000 Inuit in Canada.
- Citing Obed's statement, Mayor Don Iveson urged the team to change its name in 2017. "I totally understand that the team has a name that they believe they use respectfully, but the team's position seems to be changing, which I think is good," he said at the time.
What happened next?
- The name change was a multi-step process. A survey published by the team in February 2021 narrowed the options to seven: Elk, Evergreens, Evergolds, Eclipse, Elkhounds, Eagles and Elements.
- "The survey received 38,761 responses, which were broken down by location, age, and other key demographics for those who submitted their preference," wrote the Elks in a press release. "Across all of the respondents, it became clear that Elk was highly favoured through all demographic categories."
- While the intent to change the team's name was announced last summer, the final decision came after almost a full year of deliberation. Until it unveiled its new name on June 1, the football club went by the Edmonton Football Team or EE Football.
How are people reacting?
- Public reaction to the name change has been largely positive. "New name, the same game," tweeted Mayor Iveson. "Given the country's renewed focus on reconciliation, this is very timely. Congrats — go, Elks!"
- "Guess Elk hunting season starts early this year," challenged the Calgary Stampeders. "Congrats on the new name! Looking forward to our next #BattleOfAlberta."
- "I love it. Some might resist change, but it was time and this is a great logo, helmet design and brand that fans should be proud of," said one fan on Twitter.
Will the team play this year?
- The CFL's 2021 season is set to kick off Aug. 5, with the Grey Cup tentatively happening in Hamilton, Ont. on Dec. 12.
- With the season already postponed once due to COVID-19, CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie thanked fans for their patience in a statement, and said: "When it is your turn, get vaccinated."
- Prior to the season's postponement, the Edmonton Elks were to face the Saskatchewan Roughriders on June 12. The match's new date is yet to be confirmed.