Minor hockey investigates after N-word allegedly used on B.C. ice

Kamloops family files complaint about conduct of teenaged Salmon Arm hockey player

A Kamloops minor hockey parent is speaking out against the prevalence of racism in the sport after a Salmon Arm player allegedly called her son the “N-word” during a game played last weekend in Sicamous.

Complaints regarding the alleged use of the racial slur have since reached the Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association (OMAHA) and the Salmon Arm Minor Hockey Association (SAMHA), and representatives of both organizations say the matter is now under investigation.

Sandy Horner was at the Sicamous arena Friday, Feb. 23, cheering on her 14-year-old son, a player with a Kamloops Bantam Tier 3 team competing against other Interior teams in three days of round-robin playoffs. That afternoon, as the ice was being cleaned during a contest between Kamloops and Salmon Arm, Horner’s son called her over to talk.

“He was visibly upset, and he told me what had occurred on the ice,” said Horner, noting her son’s coaches were with him when it was explained a Salmon Arm player was overheard calling her son a racial slur.

While upsetting to hear, Horner said it wasn’t a unique occurrence.

“Sadly, my son is used to this happening and, as a rule, he does not report it anymore because nothing is ever done about it,” Horner explained.

What was different this time around was that the racial slur was heard by a Kamloops teammate, who reported it to the team’s coaches.

“In the past, even when we have said something, we’ve always been told there’s nothing that can be done about it because only your son heard it or the refs didn’t hear it… What’s great is that he has great teammates and he has great coaches.”

Horner said the incident was first reported to a ref, who asked her son to identify the Salmon Arm player.

“I watched the ref talk to my son and then the ref immediately skated over to the bench and spoke to the Salmon Arm coach and my understanding was the ref let the coach know which player it was,” said Horner, adding the Salmon Arm player continued to play that weekend, despite what happened.

“In fact, we played them in the finals Sunday afternoon… my son was out there on the ice with him during that Sunday game, which we won 5-0,” said Horner.

Minor hockey officials say any allegation of this type would be subject to an investigation and possible disciplinary action.

“It’s being investigated, and of course BC Hockey and OMAHA, as part of BC Hockey, take anything like that very seriously… We are looking into it and trying to get to the bottom of it,” said OMAHA vice-president Terry Rolston. “There’s no place in the game, any game, for this type of behaviour.

Ralston said the use of racial slurs have resulted in suspensions of more than 30 days and, in some cases, suspensions have been indefinite.

SAMHA president Tim Giandomenico is on the same page as Ralston regarding the use of racial slurs in minor hockey.

“We take it very seriously, at the organization, this is one of the most, if not the most serious of offences there can be – not just minor hockey, but in any association,” Giandomenico said in a Tuesday morning interview with the Observer. “So yeah, we’re taking it very serious and we’re doing a thorough investigation right now, and that includes interviewing all parties involved.”

Horner, however, isn’t so much interested in creating repercussions for the Salmon Arm player as she is in shining a spotlight on racism in sport.

“Stuff happens in hockey, stuff happens in sports – do I really think boys in Grade 8 and 9 are out there and it’s all how-do-you-do and there’s no F-bombs being thrown around, or whatever? No,” said Horner. “It crosses the line when it’s a racial slur.”

Horner describes her son as a passionate hockey fan, who has been on skates since he was a toddler and has played hockey since the age of three.

“He has a passion for the game,” said Horner. “He gets told that he’s good at hockey because he’s black. He spends a lot of time dedicated to hockey. He works hard at it, he spends a lot of time at home, making shots and playing street hockey.

“My son was born in Chicago so he is a Chicago Blackhawks fan, and probably he’d say (Blackhawk’s captain) Jonathan Toews is his favourite player.”

Horner said after Friday’s game, she called up a friend, a Junior B player who has been a mentor to her son. She said he was livid, but explained the same thing happened to him the night prior.

“My whole point is this happens repeatedly. Specifically I’ll speak to black players…,” said Horner. “It happens at all levels. And it just needs to come out in the open, there needs to be dialogue and conversation about it.

“Coaches need training, officials need training. Every year I go to my son’s coach and say, ‘I don’t know if you’ve ever coached a black player before, but this will happen. It’s happened every year to my son.’ And they just kind of look at me wide-eyed… and say, ‘well, what do you do?’ And I’ll say this is what you do. And they’ve had conversations with the players on my son’s team as well, which is why his teammate reported it. But conversations need to happen.”

Neither OMAHA nor SAMHA have zero-tolerance policies with regard to racism or sexism. Instead, such incidents are addressed under processes for dealing with abuse or harassment, which include prescribed disciplinary actions. For SAMHA, these include verbal and written apologies, suspension and expulsion from membership.

In addition, Rolston says Hockey Canada’s Respect in Sport program is mandatory for all coaches and officials and, in some cases, parents.

Related: Funds aimed at ending racism

Related: Trudeau says anti-black racism exists in Canada

To report a typo, email:
newstips@saobserver.net
.


@SalmonArm
newstips@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Just Posted

Sailings filling up on Northern Sea Wolf

There is a strong demand for the service

New ownership group presents Mount Timothy Resort plans

‘More activity and more people on the hill means more fun’

Thunderstorms in forecast for much of Cariboo Chilcotin

Special weather statements, concerns of flash flooding, for southern B.C. regions

Two Nuxalk artists awarded YVR Art Foundation scholarships

Several Nuxalk artists have won the award, some more than once

Convicted animal abuser to return to B.C. court May 21

Catherine Jessica Adams is facing a breach of probation charge

BREAKING: Court says B.C. can’t restrict oil shipments in key case for Trans Mountain

A five-judge Appeal Court panel agreed unanimously that B.C.’s proposed legislation was not constitutional

More than half of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles: study

Divide between rural and urban respondents in latest Angus Reid Institute public opinion study

Spring rain needed as B.C. sees one of the lowest snowpack levels in 40 years

Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016

Theresa May to quit as party leader June 7, sparking race for new PM

The new Conservative leader will become prime minister without the need for a general election

B.C. man who fell off cliff returns there to rescue eagle from vulture attack

Nanaimo’s James Farkas, who broke his hip in a fall, saves eagle on same beach months later

Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 to move within 1 game of NBA Finals

Leonard scores 35 as Toronto takes 3-2 series lead over Milwaukee

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana crops ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

Nisga’a Nation tourism industry hits the road

First pilot tour to the Nass Valley is set for this summer with Indigenous Tourism BC

Most Read