(Reuters) – The Canadian Football League’s Edmonton franchise will now be known as the Elks, the club announced on Tuesday, after discarding their longtime name the Eskimos that had been criticised as derogatory towards indigenous people.
One of the CFL’s most successful franchises, Edmonton had come under fire on numerous occasions for using a name that some critics felt showed a lack of respect for indigenous people in the northern regions of Canada and the United States.
The Eskimos name was retired in 2020 and the club known as the Edmonton Football Team while it considered a new identity.
“This was a process that originally began back in early August of 2020 with an initial discussion around the possibilities,” Elks President Chris Presson said in a statement. “Thanks to our wonderful fans and partners across the board for their input, dialogue and debate.
“Re-branding a team is hard. Re-branding a team with 100 years of history is even more challenging and we worked hard to meld that history with something new and meaningful.”
The team, whose logo is a double “E”, have used the Eskimos name since their inception in 1949 and will be able to continue to use the trademark on their helmets and other merchandise with the switch to the Elks.
The decision to drop the Eskimos name follows a similar move last July by the National Football League’s Washington team, which retired their Redskins name and logo that Native American rights groups consider racist.
Washington has yet to announce a new name for their franchise.
Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians has said it will change its name but will continue to use it during the 2021 season.
The team, which has won only two World Series championships since its founding, removed its “Chief Wahoo” logo from uniforms starting with the 2019 season but has retained other traditions such as referring to itself as “the Tribe.”
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)