APTN National News
A Utah-based clothing company, Eskimo Kids is getting an earful online over its name from Canada’s Inuit community.
The company sells faux-fur hats in the shape of animals.
“Images built on milking margins dry without offering anything in return are nothing but a disgrace” said Inuit artist and activist, Kayley Victoria in a Facebook post.
Victoria is one of the first people to call out the clothing company on its name, and has garnered support from her community across the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
“If you are going to constantly use polar bears and iglus and aurora and inuksuks to promote yourselves, but don’t give a damn crap about anything going on north of 60 than you have some things to
consider about the impact you have” the Facebook post said. (sic)
The name Eskimo means “raw meat eaters” and it was given to Inuit by non-Inuit people. Many consider the term to be a racial slur
“Inuit is what we call ourselves and Eskimo was a name given to us,” said Victoria. “So regardless of etymology, it disregards what we have said we are. It’s about defining ourselves and having that respected – for too long others have defined us and dictated what we are to us. We are Inuit. We are people.
Dozens of Northerners have taken to social media to let the company know that their name is offensive. People posted comments on the Eskimo Kids Facebook page, but later reported that the company deleted their comments and blocked them from the page shortly after posting.
Victoria sent the company a formal request to change their name via a live chat feature on their website. She pointed to the news on Canadian gin company, Ungava, who recently issued a public statement apologizing for appropriating Inuit culture in their advertising, and asked Eskimo Kids to do the same.
An administrative person with the company responded:
“This concern has recently been brought to our attention. I apologize for any kind of offense it may have caused to your culture. We never intended to offend anyone otherwise we would not have chosen this name. We really appreciate you reaching out to us and I have already made the rest of our team aware of this issue. We are hoping to get this corrected for the culture. I apologize that we were not more considerate when choosing a name for our brand.”
Company owners did not respond to APTN’s request for comment. But a representative told APTN that the owners are aware of the concern and that a name change is at the top of their list of options for recourse.