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Nova Scotia hockey officials form task force to combat racism, discrimination

Hockey culture
Nova Scotia's governing body for amateur hockey has assembled a task force to deal with discrimination in the sport after an Indigenous player said he was subjected to racist taunts during a recent game in Cape Breton. Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

Nova Scotia’s governing body for amateur hockey has assembled a task force to deal with discrimination in the sport after an Indigenous player said he was subjected to racist taunts during a recent game in Cape Breton.

The executive director of Hockey Nova Scotia, Amy Walsh, says the team will include a human rights lawyer and representatives from the Indigenous, African Nova Scotian and LGBTQ communities.

“At Hockey Nova Scotia, we believe that the rink should be a welcoming place for everyone. We believe that racism and discrimination have no place in our game,” Walsh said in a statement Wednesday.

READ MORE: In wake of racism and abuse allegations, is hockey at its tipping point?

The move comes after 16-year-old Logan Prosper came forward this week to say he was the target of racial slurs during a game in Cheticamp, N.S., on Sunday night.

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Prosper, who is from Waycobah First Nation, has said players with the Northside Vikings used offensive language when describing Indigenous players.

“One of the players said all natives look like turds in their helmets and that they should go back to where they came from and we shouldn’t be playing hockey,” Prosper told CTV News.

He alleges the comments came from players on the ice, as well as their parents in the stands.

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Walsh’s statement cited recent incidents of discrimination in hockey, both locally and internationally.

She did not provide details, but one major example of such discrimination involves former NHL forward Akim Aliu, who came forward last month with allegations of racism against a former coach.

Aliu accuses Bill Peters of using racial slurs against him during the 2009-10 season. Peters has since resigned as head coach of the Calgary Flames.

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“The victims of these incidents have demonstrated courage in coming forward with their stories,” Walsh said in her statement Wednesday.

She said the new task force will help Hockey Nova Scotia draft policies and procedures to “ensure that the rink is safe and welcoming for everyone.”

“This is a complex issue with deep and ugly historical roots,” she said. “There are no easy solutions. But that is no excuse for inaction.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 11, 2019.