Researchers from Queen’s University are calling on hockey officials to improve inclusion and acceptance in the sport with a policy paper that outlines recommendations on how to combat racism in hockey.
“I certainly have friends and teammates that have experienced it … things like “go back to China” in the handshake lineup,” says Courteny Szto, one of the four researchers who penned the policy paper.
Sam McKegney, another author involved in the paper, says issues of racism in hockey have been documented in media coverage over the years.
“If you’ve been attentive to news reporting over the years, every year, multiple instances of suspected instances of racism and proven racism occur,” McKegney says.
The Queen’s University researchers say racism comes in many different forms and that it’s not always malicious.
“Hockey has consistently hired people that look like people that have come before them, so scouting is a good example,” Szto says. “We generally pull scouts from people who have played high-level hockey. And those people have been disproportionally white people.”
To help make the Canadian sport more inclusive, the two researchers and their colleagues have come up with a set of policies aimed at making the sport more inclusive — policies that McKegney says “ensure all officials, all coaches, all arena staff are aware of what has to happen when … suspected instances occur.”
The policy paper was developed during a Roundtable on Racism in Hockey in 2019.
Some of those recommended policies include improving the hiring process, including instituting a blind review process; creating an external oversight body with the sole purpose of receiving and investigating claims of racial, sexual, homonegative and gendered abuse/discrimination, and to advocate for claimants; and offer better education on inclusion for coaches, administrators, billets and officials.
“Racist incidents occur time and time again, and the hockey community is righteously appalled — but then attention fades and it’s back to business as usual, with no substantive structural or systemic change,” McKegney said.
“We’re advocating for practical, actionable changes we believe will not only make hockey more inclusive but will help unlock the game’s potential as an instrument of positive social change.
“Let’s make it the case where hockey can become a space in which youth and others learn anti-racism, learn to be better members of communities and eliminate those stigmas of society that would oppress others.”
The policy paper has been distributed to Hockey Canada, the NHL and the minister of heritage.
Global News has contacted Hockey Canada and the NHL but has not yet heard a response.
McKegney and Szto have a meeting scheduled with the minister of heritage in the coming weeks.