Edmonton quarterback Logan Kilgore (15) looks on from the sidelines late in the second half CFL football game action against the Hamilton Tiger Cats, in Hamilton, Ont., on October 4, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power

Edmonton Football Team changes its name to Elks

Edmonton Football Team changes its name to Elks

It’s one of the largest species within the deer family, can stand almost two metres tall at the shoulders and inflict serious damage when challenged.

Now, the elk will be featured in the CFL. The Edmonton franchise announced Tuesday it is changing its team name to Elks.

The move comes 10 months after the club dropped its longtime name, Eskimos. It followed a similar decision by the NFL’s Washington team amid pressure on franchises to eliminate racist or stereotypical names.

The CFL franchise had been called the Edmonton Football Team until Tuesday’s announcement.

“We definitely did the right thing,” Edmonton president/CEO Chris Presson told reporters during a teleconference. “(The name change) was needed, it was probably a few years overdue to be honest.

“But I’m glad that we’re where we are now. No doubt we made the right decision.”

The Eskimos moniker had been tied to sports teams in Edmonton since the 19th century, but critics said the name was derogatory and a colonial-era term for Inuit.

In February 2020, the Edmonton franchise announced it was keeping the Eskimos 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, noting “a lot has happened” since the decision in February.

One sponsor, 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 welcome a review.

This all happened as NFL’s Washington team had said it would undergo a thorough review of its nickname. A similar announcement was made by Major League Baseball’s Cleveland team, which is switching its name next year.

Although American Inuit continue to use the word Eskimo, Canada’s northern people left that name behind at about the same time they began negotiating their land claim in the 1970s. Many historians believe the origin of Eskimo comes from an Algonquin term meaning “eaters of raw meat.”

Others believe it actually comes from another Aboriginal term that refers to people wearing snowshoes. The people themselves have used the word Inuit for centuries. It means “the people” in Inuktut.

“Man, it’s been a whirlwind,” Presson said. “We wanted to make sure we got it right, we wanted to make sure we did the proper research and we wanted to make sure we created something that was special, and we have.

“When you look at the history of the Edmonton Football Team and the CFL itself, there’s a lot there to see. To know you are a part of that and you had a chance to make an impact like this, it’s pretty special.

“We plan to continue our northern engagement, we plan to enhance our local engagement. Back to June 2018 we had players and executives that went and spoke with northern leaders, artists, influencers to learn more and really that was a precursor to where we ended up today.”

Last week, a mass grave containing the remains of 215 children was discovered in B.C. on the site of what was once Canada’s largest Indigenous residential school. Edmonton paid tribute to the victims with a moment of silence during the video release of the new name.

“What I’ve read about in the last several days is certainly disturbing,” Presson said, his voice wavering. “I still can’t even get my head around it, I really can’t.

“To think about my own family and the fact of having three daughters of my own … obviously it’s challenging to talk about.”

Elk 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.

“I can tell you animals were the clear selection of the 40,000 responses we got,” Presson said. “That being said, Elks continued to rise to the top.

“It was No. 1 with our players, it was No. 1 with our coaches, it was No. 1 with our fans … it was really the fans who made the choice. They were clear in their votes what they wanted. It will allow us to develop a nice ecosystem for our business as a whole.”

The adoption of Elks, though, was surprising to some given the plural term of the word is usually Elk, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. But Presson said the club did its homework before adding ‘S’ to the name.

“We checked with the Oxford Dictionary folks, we also checked with a linguistics expert at (the University of Alberta),” he said. “It is proper, especially in a team name.

“We liked how it sounded, frankly it’s more inclusive than the word elk. Elks isn’t you or me, it’s us and I think the inclusion around the plurality of it was a key mechanism for us.”

Presson said while Edmonton’s helmets will bear elk antlers, the club plans to also use its other logos, including the iconic EE.

“We will wear the antlers on the helmet, no doubt about it,” he said. “We freshened up our EE, it’s still within our ecosystems of brands and we still plan to use it.

“How and when we use any and all of the brands is still yet to be determined.”

The name change also 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.

“I feel good about where we are,” Presson said. “I think as we look forward, we’ll be on the field the early part of August, I feel very confident in that.

“I expect a schedule to be released relatively soon and so I think everything seems to be coming together in a positive way.”

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.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2021.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

CFL

Just Posted

A small selection of shoes line a step at the municipal government building in Sylvan Lake, with each pair representing a vicitm of residential schools in Canada. Tracey Greinke placed the first pair of shoes on the steps, hoping more would follow. (Photo by Megan Roth/Black Press news services)
Sylvan Lake woman sets up small memorial for residential school victims

Tracey Grienke placed a pair of moccasins on the steps of town hall, and a few more followed

A section of the eastern slopes south west of Longview, Alta., Wednesday, June 16, 2021. A new report finds big differences in how different governments have responded to Canada’s promise to increase the amount of land it protects. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
A for Quebec, F for Alberta: Study rates Canadian governments on conservation

Report by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a ceremony in memory of those killed during WWII as he takes part in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of Unknown Soldier in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, June 22, 2021, marking the 80th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Putin hails WWII heroes, warns of degrading Europe security

Kremlin anxious to see international recognition of wartime sacrifices and its role in defeating Nazis

FILE - In this May 19, 2021, file photo, mice scurry around stored grain on a farm near Tottenham, Australia. A mouse plague that has ravaged vast swathes of eastern Australia has forced the evacuation of a prison while authorities repair gnawed electrical wiring and clear dead and decaying mice from wall cavities and ceilings, Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin said on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
Australian prison to be evacuated after mice move in

Plagues usually happen when rain follows several years of drought

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell looks at his papers as Belarusian opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, background left, talks to Cypriot Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides during a European Foreign Affairs Ministers meeting at the European Council building in Luxembourg, Monday, June 21, 2021. EU foreign ministers were set to approve Monday a new set of sanctions against scores of officials in Belarus and prepare a series of measures aimed at the country’s economy. (Johanna Geron/Pool Photo via AP)
EU, US, UK, Canada join forces to slap sanctions on Belarus

Asset freezes and travel bans also imposed

Black Horse Singers performed for students at Ecole la Prairie on Monday. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Students remind Red Deer that every child matters on National Indigenous Day

Heart-shaped messages to decorate trees at Ecole la Prairie through the summer

FILE - Canada’s Cyle Larin (17) scores past Haiti’s Josue Duverger, bottom left, during the second half of a World Cup qualifying soccer match Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Bridgeview, Ill. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Toronto FC’s Zavaleta wastes little time settling in with El Salvador national team

Indiana-born Zavaleta qualifies for El Salvador through his father

Summer McIntosh swims her way to first place in the Women’s 800m Freestyle at the 2020 Olympic Swimming Trials in Toronto, Monday, June 21, 2021. McIntosh, who edged Rio Olympic star Penny Oleksiak in the 200-metre freestyle final a day earlier, picked up where she left off in the women’s 800-metre freestyle. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Summer Time: 14-year-old McIntosh wins again at Olympic swim trials

McIntosh will be one of the youngest athletes in Tokyo

This undated photo provided by Walt Disney World shows Disney characters at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Walt Disney World is planning an 18-month celebration in honor of its 50th anniversary, starting in October 2021. Disney announced Tuesday, June 22 that all four parks at the resort will take part in “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.” (Matt Stroshane/Walt Disney World via AP)
Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary party starts Oct. 1

Favorite Disney characters will be part of a collection of special golden sculptures at all four parks

Columnist Treena Mielke
Family: When rain cancels ball game

The wild roses are out, blooming in roadside ditches, their gentle beauty… Continue reading

Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson, center, tries to get position for a shot against New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin (30) during the second period in Game 5 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 21, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Stamkos, Vasilevskiy pace Lightning’s 8-0 rout of Islanders

Lightning 8 Islanders 0 (Tampa Bay leads series 3-2) TAMPA, Fla. —… Continue reading

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he’s ‘convinced’ the city will be able to get rid of the mandatory mask bylaw in July. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
‘Made in Calgary’ approach will keep mask requirements past Alberta’s total reopening

Calgary won’t be following provincial recommendations on the mandatory wearing of masks… Continue reading

Most Read