The Edmonton Eskimos have seen repeated calls for a name change in the past. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Sponsors urge name change for Edmonton Eskimos’ as pressure to switch builds

Team to ‘ramp up’ consultations with Inuit

At least one of the Edmonton Eskimos sponsors plans to cut ties with the Canadian Football League team unless it changes its name, while other corporate partners say they are watching closely for results of the team’s “ongoing engagement” with Inuit communities.

National car-and-home insurance provider Belairdirect, one of the team’s 13 premier partners, says it is rethinking their relationship.

“In order for us to move forward and continue on with our partnership, we will need to see concrete action in the near future including a commitment to a name change,” company spokeswoman Jennifer Beck said in an email.

“We acknowledge that change is a journey and have shared our position with the team.”

Edmonton’s team has seen repeated calls for a name change in the past and faces renewed criticism as sports teams in Canada, the United States and elsewhere are urged to remove outdated and sometimes racist names and images.

Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians, who retired their racist caricature ”Chief Wahoo” logo in 2018 but kept their name, and the National Football League’s Washington Redskins, whose name contains a racial slur, both said on Friday they would undertake a review.

The National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday said they will continue to use their team name because it honours an Indigenous leader who has been an inspiration to generations.

The Eskimos released a statement late last week saying they would “ramp up” ongoing consultations with Inuit communities, recognizing the “increased attention” the name has received recently. The organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment about its sponsors.

Belairdirect’s announcement comes on the heels of a February decision by the team to keep its name following an extensive research and engagement program that found “no consensus” on the current name.

Other sponsors welcomed any review of the team name.

A Jiffy Lube location in Edmonton supports the further engagement, wrote Kelly McClung, vice-president of marketing and operations for Lube-X and Jiffy Lube operator in Canada.

“We look forward to hearing feedback from their ongoing discussions,” she said.

Fisherman’s Friend also expressed support for the re-engagement.

“We … are looking forward to the timely and respectful progression of those conversations along with a positive outcome for all,” wrote Brian Riddell, who works with TFB & Associates Ltd., the Canadian distributor for the lozenges brand.

“We’re going to wait until the conclusion of the study that the team is doing to make any further decisions,” he said when asked whether Fisherman’s Friend would continue to partner with the team regardless of its name.

An Edmonton location of The Rec Room, an entertainment space owned by Cineplex, is also listed as a premier partner of the Eskimos.

Continuing the relationship “isn’t part of our marketing plans for 2020,” wrote Sarah Van Lange, Cineplex’s executive director of communications, in an email.

“That said, we support their review of the team’s name and encourage them to do the right thing.”

Asked what the right thing is, Van Lange referred back to the original statement. However, she noted the company’s locations were closed for several months due to the COVID-19 outbreak “and all marketing plans were put on hold during that time.”

Tim Hortons said it has “been in contact with the team, but they can best speak to their review process and engagement with Inuit communities.” It did not respond to questions about whether it intends to continue its partnership.

Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Ltd., which has a product partnership with the team, said it has spoken with team management and shared its concerns about the name

“We have asked them to strive for consensus about their name in their community engagement activities with Inuit communities as soon as possible,” spokeswoman Kathy Murphy said in an email.

There have been repeated calls for the Edmonton team to change its name in the past.

Most recently, Canada’s national Inuit organization in 2015 said it was time for a change. “It isn’t right for any team to be named after an ethnic group,” said Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which represents Canada’s 60,000 Inuit.

Edmonton mayor Don Iveson in 2017 said the team should take steps toward a name change, citing Obed’s statement.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2020.

BusinessFootball

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

2020 Ponoka business awards
Ponoka chamber 2020 Business Award winners

The Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce 2020 Business Awards were held… Continue reading

Ryen Williams, 11, with a lost miniature horse at JJ Collett Oct. 23. Photo by Don Williams
UPDATE: Owner found

Father and son found miniature horse while out for a walk at JJ Collett

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

(Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ponoka FCSS’ Empty Bowls sells out

For the first time ever, Ponoka Family and Community Support Services’ (FCSS’s)… Continue reading

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Leader of the Opposition Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Thursday October 22, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
O’Toole tells Alberta UCP AGM Liberals were ‘late and confused’ on COVID response

He says Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has taken charge and not waited to make things happen

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Inquiry into oil and gas foes to deliver report next year: Kenney

A lawsuit filed by environmental law firm Ecojustice argues the inquiry is politically motivated

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

This photo provided by Air Force Reserve shows a sky view of Hurricane Epsilon taken by Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter team over the Atlantic Ocean taken Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.   Epsilon’s maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly as it prepares to sideswipe Bermuda on a path over the Atlantic Ocean.  The National Hurricane Center says it should come close enough Thursday, Oct. 22, evening to merit a tropical storm warning for the island.  (Air Force Reserve via AP)
Hurricane Epsilon expected to remain offshore but will push waves at Atlantic Canada

Epsilon is not expected to have any real impact on land

A voter places her absentee ballot in the ballot box, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Robert F. Bukaty
American voters living in Canada increasingly being counted in presidential race

The largest number of Canadian-based American voters cast their ballots in New York and California

A composite image of three photographs shows BC NDP Leader John Horgan, left, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Sept. 25, 2020; BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau, centre, in Victoria on Sept. 24, 2020; and BC Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Sept. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck, Chad Hipolito
British Columbia votes in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan called the snap election one year before the fixed voting date

Nunavut's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, on Tuesday June 30, 2020. The annual report from Nunavut's representative for children and youth says "complacency and a lack of accountability" in the territory's public service means basic information about young people needing services isn’t tracked. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Nunavut’s young people ‘should be expecting more’ from government services: advocate

‘The majority of information we requested is not tracked or was not provided by departments’

Most Read