If you’re a fan of hockey, the policy paper for anti-racism in Canadian hockey from Hockey in Society should be at the top of your reading list. There’s been far too much inaction from the sport of hockey when it comes to anti-racism, and we implore you to be the best fan you can be and commit to helping make hockey a sport that truly welcomes everyone.
In March 2020, Hockey in Society released a policy paper for anti-racism in Canadian hockey. It was authored by Courtney Szto, PhD., Sam McKegney, PhD., Michael Mahkwa (Bear) Auksi, and Bob Dawson. Per the paper, it was designed to:
- Advocate for policy changes;
- Invigorate the need for re-education of coaches, parents, players, and officials on the importance of anti-racism; and
- Promote strategies for making hockey culture safer, more inclusive, and accountable for its practises.
The paper presents an eye-opening breakdown of the status of hockey in Canada regarding systemic racism, documenting cases of racism in all levels of the sport. It shines a light on the power dynamics, privileges, and inaccessibility associated with hockey. A list of resources are also compiled at the end of the paper for further reading and discussion.
For hockey to be universally known as “Canada’s sport”, there are still many barriers to the game that make it devastatingly difficult for people from marginalised communities to enjoy. From being an athlete, parent, fan, or analyst, there are systems in place that make hockey reserved for the privileged.
As the NHL resumed play during the COVID-19 pandemic, they also returned in the wake of the BlackLivesMatter movement, where global protests against police brutality and racism have been ongoing since the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery among many, many others.
For many, the return of professional sports amid the global pandemic was a welcomed distraction, but much work remains in anti-racism efforts to make sports more inclusive.
We’ve seen monumental progress over the past months in hockey, particularly thanks to the work of Renee Hess and the Black Girl Hockey Club, we’ve seen the Hockey Diversity Alliance come to fruition consisting of players of colour in the NHL, past and present. There is definite progress being made in the sport. For Canadians who enjoy hockey, there’s still plenty of work left.
The policy paper presents ten calls to action pertaining to:
- Settler colonialism and reconciliation,
- Training and certification,
- Consistency of enforcement,
- Data collection,
- Promotion of diversity,
- Financial access,
- Geographical access, and
Within each call to action, specific organisations or members of specific organisations are called upon to make actionable changes for Canadian hockey. If you have any capacity to effect change in any of the calls to action, we implore you to consider contributing your time and resources to help make these changes more immediate and effective.
The Win Column will be creating a pledge in the coming days for hockey fans to sign and act upon, presented with actionable steps. We believe change can be made, and we will follow the lead of the professional athletes in the WNBA and NBA, and use our platform to help drive any and all steps in the right direction in combating racism in the sport of hockey.
With thanks to Hockey in Society and the authors of the policy paper. Direct link to the paper: here.