'We have far more pressing issues,' says Inuk who backs Edmonton Eskimos name

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'We have far more pressing issues,' says Inuk who backs Edmonton Eskimos name

'We have far more pressing issues,' says Inuk who backs Edmonton Eskimos name

If you think all Inuit are insulted by the Edmonton Eskimos name, think again.

Since the latest push by the mayor of Winnipeg to get the CFL team to change the name to something "more inclusive," many Inuit have spoken out on social media, and reached out to CBC North, to voice their support for the moniker.

Kenneth Ruben, in Paulatuk, N.W.T., posted a message to politicians on Facebook, saying "We as 'the real Eskimos,' want the name to remain!!" His post has since been shared nearly 600 times.

"I just really thought it was kind of a ridiculous platform for the politicians to jump on, seeing that we have far more pressing issues in both the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, and any of our native Eskimo communities," he told CBC.

"Nunavut has a housing crisis, so does the Northwest Territories. Our cost of food has just gone absolutely crazy. The suicide rates in both Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are among the highest in Canada."

Ruben can rhyme off stats on the rate of suicide in both territories, as well as the number of houses needed in Inuit regions and the cost. 

"I really think that these politicians should put their efforts elsewhere and concentrate on things that affect our people more than a name, a moniker on a sports franchise that has nothing to do with insulting our people," Ruben said.

Source of pride

Dominic Angutimarik called CBC's talkback line from Igloolik, Nunavut, to say he also supports the name.

"I wouldn't want them to change their name simply because it's just a title and, in fact, I feel honoured as an Inuk person to see the name Eskimos as they probably had thought that Inuit were capable people with integrity," he said in Inuktitut.

Jenna Palituq, from Clyde River, Nunavut, said Eskimo is a generational word that's fine by her.

"They're known all over the world as Edmonton Eskimos and they are representing and making a name for the Eskimos," Palituq said.

Erin Pameolik, from Coral Harbour, Nunavut, said she'd be disappointed if the football team changed its name.

"I would be, because I'm known as an Eskimo and they're good representation for us Inuit."

Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which represents more than 60,000 Inuit, has spoken out against the name. He recently said it's his hope that the team "will respect the wishes of Inuit and replace its moniker with a team name that is not widely considered an ethnic slur."

Obed is in Germany at the COP 23 UN climate change conference and wasn't available to comment for this story.

For Ruben, the name has always been a source of pride, and is the reason he followed the team.

"Growing up as a kid, I first caught on to a football game and Edmonton Eskimos were playing and I really thought it was our own team. I felt a sense of pride," Ruben said.

Ruben thinks politicians should be focusing their energy, and money, on more important issues Inuit face.

"For me it's just political grandstanding. It has nothing to do with our social issues now. You have never heard of a person who lost a house, or can't get a house because of the Edmonton Eskimos name."