April 17, 2018 6:29 pm
Updated: April 18, 2018 9:52 am

‘Keep your chin up’: N.S. legislature hosts young hockey player who was called racial slur

12-year-old Mark Connors, left, and African Nova Scotian Affairs Minister Tony Ince pose for a photo at the Nova Scotia Legislature in Halifax on Tuesday, April 17, 2018.

The Canadian Press/Keith Doucette

The Nova Scotia legislature played host Tuesday to a 12-year-old hockey goalie who was recently the target of a racial slur on the ice.

Tony Ince, the minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs, said it was important to show support for Mark Connors because all Nova Scotians should feel respected “no matter where they go.”

Connors was called the n-word during a peewee hockey game in Tantallon, N.S., last month.

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“I just said to him, ‘I support you, keep your chin up, most Nova Scotians would support you in this, and you are welcome anywhere,”‘ said Ince.

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A smiling Connors, who plays for the Halifax Hawks, gave Ince his hockey card and Ince gave Connors a copy of “Black Ice,” a book that chronicles an African Canadian hockey league that was formed in Halifax in 1895.

“The beginning of that league, it was important for him (Mark) to get a sense of that history,” said Ince. “We are not new to the game – African Nova Scotians and African Canadians have been involved in the game for a long time.”

Connors said he enjoyed his visit, saying it felt “really good” to get the support.

He said the incident wasn’t the first time he’d encountered racism on the ice.

“I just ignore it and try not to think about it again,” said Connors.

WATCH: The historic story of black hockey players in Nova Scotia

His father, Wayne Connors, said Mark was a bit overwhelmed by the attention.

He said Mark received a phone call from Chicago Blackhawks forward Anthony Duclair, who is also black.

“He (Duclair) said you belong and don’t give up . . . Whether you pursue hockey or not, the world is there for you, and that resonated with me,” he said.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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