It appears the Canadian Football League’s relentless pursuit of colonial repression will finally come to an end thanks to the outcry over the Edmonton Eskimos’ name which, according to young Natan Obed, is derogatory, offensive, demeaning, etcetera, etcetera, et-bleedin’-cetera.
In a stirring call to arms regarding what surely is the most pressing and “dehumanizing” issue for the nation’s 60,000 Inuit, Obed showed his solidarity with all other indigenous persons by calling for an end to being portrayed as “mascots.”
Well, good for him and his dutiful adherence to the vocabulary of victimology. His cry is unswerving in his fealty to the indoctrination available to him while, as an oppressed and exploited hockey player, he pursued his degree at Tuft’s University’s rigorous “Consortium of studies in Race, Colonialism and Diaspora.” Sign up now for AMER0194-03: Settler Colonialism and the Environment: Violence, Culture, Resistance and you can be part of a course in which earnest scholars “will persistently center Indigenous theorists, communities, and organizers who critique the coloniality of environmental crisis and who argue for and invent alternative models of ecological thinking and living.” Can’t wait, can you?
Alas, unlike most of his constituency, Obed does not speak Inuktituk and is fluent only in the language of the colonist oppressors. Perhaps (and for the record we have not used the word other than to speak of the football team for 30 years) if he has an issue with the word “Eskimo,” he likely needs to take it up with his Innu brothers and sisters whose historic lands neighbour Nunatsiavut (Labrador) where he grew up. Because they are the ones who came up with the word in the first place. While the French colonists referred to these people as Montagnais (mountain people). At some point they appear to have asked the locals what they called the other folks who lived further north and the response was “oh, those are Eskimaux.” Seeing as there is some Danish involved in the spread of the word, it appears possible Vikings got the same information when, earlier, they were trying to find out who was who in that part of the world.
Anyway, it sure as heck wasn’t a pejorative terms invented by white people to diminish anyone. But we’re sorry. Really, we are. And we will continue to be sorry because it’s not really about doing anything for Canada’s indigenous people is it? It’s about being sorry. So, we’ll all bundle up our colonial guilt, restore funding to the CBC and feel much better by being sorry. Never mind that all the purging of indigenous names given to other indigenous people and renaming the Edmonton Eskimos isn’t going to stop one more kid from committing suicide or help them get through school which, after all and upon reflection, is just another colonial construct anyway.
And, Dear Diary, we are fairly certain that no matter the extent of our crimes they pale in comparison to those suffered not so long ago by the previous residents of the north, the Dorset people and, yes, even the Viking people of Greenland who surely were the world’s first climate change refugees just a few hundred years ago.
We were pleased to see the war on Islamophobia continue to get coverage in mainstream media.
Yes, even as it was becoming apparent that the slaughter in California was conducted by a self-radicalized (what does that even mean?) couple, our broadcasters gave no attention whatsoever to the fact that the murders of two Canadian soldiers and assault on Parliament a year ago were also the actions of the “self-radicalized.”
And, even as people were being assaulted on the London Underground, killed in car bombs in Yemen and blown to smithereens in Chad, our attention continued to be firmly United Against Islamophobia, the latest manifestation of which was someone saying mean things to a young woman on a bus in Toronto and some young graffiti artist in Calgary gaining far more media attention that he ever dreamed of.
Of course we all agree people should try to avoid saying mean things to other people but, really, can we have a little perspective? Being subjected to unkind words is not a horror, it is merely unpleasant. This is a horror.
We wonder, diary – wonder we do – when we will see coverage of inter-faith groups organizing to hold earnest tongue-wags or, hey, even maybe large crowds in the streets protesting against terror. We think we will wait a very long time.
Maybe we might even see a few Immam’s wearing t-shirts bearing the weekend’s latest slogan sensation, #youain’tnomuslimbruv. One day, all will bow before the power of our hashtags.