The Remparts are in Halifax ahead of Game 3 of the QMJHL finals.
Tyler Long, 28, is the Mooseheads’ assistant equipment manager and one of the team’s biggest supporters — so much so, that he and his mother, Joanne Long, made the trek to Quebec City to catch the first two games of the series at the Videotron Centre.
But what should have been a fun and exciting time turned into an experience that left the family feeling unwelcome.
In a TikTok video and Facebook post, Joanne detailed how her son, who has Down syndrome, was the victim of bullying.
“Tonight was a totally different experience. One I have never experience in any Hockey Rink that we have been to in North America,” she wrote on Facebook.
Joanne said Remparts fans kicked the back of the chairs, tried to steal Tyler’s mini flag and called him a derogatory term in reference to Down syndrome.
She went on to say she had “never once felt unsafe with Tyler in a hockey rink, until tonight.”
Nicole Bouchard, director of team services and media relations with the Remparts, said she was upset when she heard what had happened.
“First of all, it’s not part of our values to accept a situation like this one. We’re in 2023 and nobody needs to be treated like he was,” said Bouchard.
The team reached out to the Long family to invite Tyler to Monday’s practice in Halifax. Tyler was the guest of honour behind the bench and on the ice alongside Remparts head coach Patrick Roy.
Tyler was invited to make a speech to the team and had “a big smile on his face when they left us,” said Bouchard.
“We wish them the best…. This is something which we truly wanted to do, not to have any publicity, not at all,” she said.
“The goal was to have him happy and to show him that there is a rivalry on the ice but outside of the ice as a Mooseheads fan, he can be welcome in our building at any time.
The Long family declined an interview, but in an updated Facebook post, Joanne wrote that the “outpouring of love and support for Tyler has touched our hearts.”
Games 3 and 4 of the finals are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday in Halifax at the Scotiabank Centre.
The two teams are tied 1-1 in the best-of-seven series.