Odell Willis of the then-Edmonton Eskimos hoists the Grey Cup during a fan rally for the Grey Cup champions, in Edmonton, Alta., on Tuesday December 1, 2015. The club has changed it’s name to the Elks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson.

Odell Willis of the then-Edmonton Eskimos hoists the Grey Cup during a fan rally for the Grey Cup champions, in Edmonton, Alta., on Tuesday December 1, 2015. The club has changed it’s name to the Elks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson.

Edmonton CFL franchise changes its team name to Elks

Team livestreams announcement after previously deciding to no longer be the ‘Eskimos’

The Edmonton CFL franchise has changed its team name to Elks.

The club made the announcement via livestream today.

Edmonton dropped its longtime name, Eskimos, last year following a similar decision by the NFL’s Washington team amid pressure on franchises to eliminate racist or stereotypical names.

It had been called the Edmonton Football Team up until today’s announcement but its logo continued to feature two Es.

Elks was one of seven potential name changes the Edmonton Football Team provided on its shortlist. The others included: Evergreens, Evergolds, Eclipse, Elkhounds, Eagles and Elements.

When the Edmonton Football Team announced last year it was discontinuing the Eskimos name, president Chris Presson said it was the franchise’s hope to keep its double-E logo and green and gold colours.

The decision came 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.

In February 2020, the franchise announced it was keeping the name after a year-long research period that involved Inuit leaders and community members across Canada.

Then on July 8, the club promised to speed up another review of its name and provide an update by month’s end. In that statement, the Edmonton franchise noted “a lot has happened” since the decision in February.

One of the team’s sponsors, national car-and-home insurance provider Belairdirect, had announced it was rethinking its relationship with the team because of the name.

Others added they’d would welcome a review of the name.

This all happened as NFL’s Washington team had said it would undergo a thorough review of its name.

A similar announcement was made by Major League Baseball’s Cleveland team, which is switching its name next year.

The Edmonton name change comes in time for the resumption of CFL play.

The league has tentatively scheduled starting a 14-game 2021 campaign Aug. 5 after not playing in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There had been repeated calls in the past for the Edmonton team to change its name. In 2015, Canada’s national Inuit organization had said it was time for a change.

Founded in 1949, the Edmonton team has won the Grey Cup 14 times, second only to the Toronto Argonauts at 17.

The community-owned club’s impressive history on the field includes a record five consecutive Grey Cups from 1978 to 1982.

Edmonton set a North American pro sports record by qualifying for the playoffs in 34 straight seasons from 1972 to 2005.

— The Canadian Press

Edmonton’s CFL team drops ‘Eskimos’ name, will begin search for new name

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