“I am proud to rise today as an Eskimo. I am proud today to be able to stand up as a true Eskimo,” Rankin Inlet South MLA Lorne Kusugak said in the legislative assembly on Thursday.
Kusugak rose to express his support for the Edmonton Eskimos Canadian Football League franchise deciding to keep their team name, which elicited applause from some of his colleagues. The organization announced earlier this month that after spending a year reviewing the pros and cons of going by the name Eskimos, and after consultations with Inuit leaders, they won’t change the team’s public identity.
Kusugak recalled cheering in front of his family’s television in the 1970s when he first saw the Eskimos.
“There was absolutely no offence taken to the word Eskimos in the ’70s, and I assure you the meaning of the Eskimo hasn’t changed from the ’70s to today. Everybody just needs to slow down and take a breather,” he said. “I’m proud that the Edmonton Eskimos will keep the name. Everybody else who thinks it is offensive, settle down, take a Valium, and don’t be so sensitive. Mr. Speaker, the game lives on. I am hoping this summer will be the summer I actually get to go watch the Eskimos play live at the Commonwealth Stadium.”