A Kamloops parent is speaking out about racism in local minor hockey. She said her son was targeted with a racial slur during a game last Friday. The allegation is under investigation.
“A player on the opposing team called my son what we call the n-word,” hockey parent Sandy Horner said.
“I was angry. I was so angry at the game on Friday.”
Horner said it’s not the first time her 14-year-old son Ty has heard this racial slur at hockey: “It’s been used on the ice to him a number of times. It first happened when he was eight.”
This latest incident happened during a game against a team from another community. Horner said it was reported to officials including the referee, who then talked to the opposing team’s coach.
BC Hockey, which oversees the province’s amateur hockey leagues, is defending the referee pointing out it’s hard for officials to make a call on ice if they didn’t witness an alleged incident.
“If something like that were to come forward to an official, he or she would not be in a position to make a call based on an allegation,” BC Hockey CEO Barry Petrachenko said.
Horner said the two teams played again on Sunday and “that player was still on the ice.”
“In situations like this where something happened, as much as the allegation is a terrible one, the person that the allegation was made against is not automatically guilty. We need to take steps to ensure that all players receive appropriate treatment here,” said Petrachenko.
There are conflicting reports about when officials became aware of the identity of the player involved in the reported incident and whether that was before or after the weekend’s hockey had wrapped up.
The Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association said the incident is under investigation by the minor hockey associations involved and it would be premature to comment until that report is concluded. That report may be finished as soon as the end of this week.
The hockey association said that if the allegation is substantiated, the player involved could receive an indefinite suspension.
Horner is leaving the investigation up to officials. What she wants to discuss is education about racism.
“We can’t just stay silent about it. I’m not singling out this association, that player, that coach because it has happened so many times. There needs to be discussion. There needs to be education. Players and coaches need to tell their players this is not okay,” Horner said.
That’s where Horner and BC Hockey agree.
“I think generally that’s a topic that we need to talk more about and certainly our game is no different than the rest of society. We need to face these issues head on,” Petrachenko said.
“Hopefully the silver lining or the good that comes out of this will include more awareness and more sensitivity to the fact that racism is wrong, racial comments are wrong and obviously no one within hockey believes to the contrary.”