Q&A with Inuit President who wants Edmonton Eskimos to change name
Natan Obed called for the Eskimos to change their name last season and has since met with the team.
[b]When Natan Obed, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, wrote an op-ed calling on the Edmonton Eskimos to lose the slang word for Inuit from their name, it ignited a discussion in our city.
In January, the team invited Obed to Edmonton to talk it out. Metro finally got both sides on the phone to talk about the meeting.
Metro: Has your position on the name changed?
Obed: It’s pretty simple from our end that the change in team name is what we hope for. The dialogue that we may have started is one that I’m grateful that they were open to … but until the name is changed, there really isn’t much more to talk about.
Metro: Is there any way they could use the name more respectfully?
Obed: Well, the idea that a professional sports entertainment franchise would hinge upon the use of another group of people as its mascot is something that isn’t a very strong argument. If the Edmonton team wants to incorporate more Inuit culture into their functions, that’s their prerogative. But, at the end of the day, the name is the thing that is problematic.
Metro: Your position is somewhat controversial, even within the Inuit community.
Obed: What I’ve said and will continue to say is that there are Inuit that are offended by it and we should live now where we try to ensure that we are providing a safe environment.
I don’t ever want to be called that term… I played sports — I grew up playing hockey, and I’ve been called a 'dirty Eskimo' and a 'n*****.' I’ve been called all sorts of names, and I know just how deeply those things hurt and how deeply they change perception of yourself. And the fact that it is still okay for the Edmonton football team to use that name every single day when it is not okay to use it in any other context to describe our people? That’s something we need to come to terms with.