Anti-Racism Incubator: Showcasing your work

“We are, as a culture, moving on to a future with more people and more voices and more possibilities. Some people are being left behind, not because the future is intolerant of them but because they are intolerant of this future.” ~ Rebecca Solnit, Whose Story Is This?

Last year, the Implementing Anti-Racism Q&A took place 36 days after the murder of George Floyd. Everyone inside and outside of hockey said they were ready to listen and learn. They said they wanted to be part of the change. It all sounded good but talk is cheap and time always separates those who are willing to do the work from those who just want to look like they are doing the work.

This past Saturday, the Policy Paper authors held an Anti-Racism Incubator for Hockey as a way to find out (1) who is actively trying to change the hockey landscape and (2) what it is they are doing. One-hundred-twenty people registered for the incubator and helped raise $1,115 for Devin Buffalo’s Waniska Athletics through registration donations. The funds will help cover costs for Indigenous youth hockey camps this summer. We had hoped that the event would serve to re-invigorate the community for the long road ahead, and we’re happy to report that it seems to have done just that! It was great to see people sharing contact information in the chat, inviting folks to collaborate, and sharing links to resources. There was a genuine energy buzzing from the Zoom chat.

The work covered in this post combines the live presentations, information shared during the registration process, and activities that came up in the Zoom chat. This is not meant to be a comprehensive or exclusive list of who is doing anti-racism work in hockey, but it does show us that there are a variety of efforts we can support and changes being made. We are still a long way from where we need to be but at least we now have a better idea of where we are right now.

Thank you to everyone below who has kindly agreed to share their contact information. Thank you to the presenters and participants for making this incubator a success. Thank you for the collective hope.

Black Girl Hockey Club should need no introduction at this point. Dr. Tunisha Singleton (@TSingletonSays) spoke about how BGHC tries to work in the areas that it can control, such as maintaining community based programming and fundraising to offset economic and resource obstacles faced by BIPOC participants. BGHC is also working to create connections for collaboration and to connect Black youth with mentors in various aspects of hockey (e.g., broadcasting, photography etc.). The #GetUncomfortable campaign launched in September 2020 and BGHC will be following up with those who took the pledge to establish next steps. If you thought taking the pledge was the whole ask, you thought wrong! That was just the beginning of your commitment to anti-racism.

Kennedy Kneller (kennedy.kneller@ubc.ca): Kneller is a Master’s student at the University of British Columbia proposing to research the experiences of Indigenous girls and women in ice hockey in the context of remote community spaces, hopefully in the Tahltan community in Northern British Columbia. She is interested in the ways that hockey offers a site for cultural expression, local knowledge production, and resistance in the lives of Indigenous girls and women. Kneller hopes her research challenges rural hockey as only a site of homogenous white settler colonialism.

Irfan Chaudry (@GrowthegameH): The Grow the Game website will be your one-stop shop for anti-racism resources. Chaudry explained that his background in anti-extremism and hate crime research has helped transition him into anti-racism work in hockey. The website will be ready sometime over the next few months. It will include everything “from podcasts to videos to academic journals.” Chaudry was also sporting a Kenya Ice Lions jersey for his presentation. Proceeds from jersey sales will help the Kenyan team earn IIHF membership. In December 2020, Chaudry hosted the “For the Growth of the Game: Addressing Racism in Hockey Virtual Summit.”

Denise Pattyn, Hockey Canada: Pattyn used the opportunity to talk about Hockey Canada’s Northern Community Development Pathway proposal, which was submitted to Sport Canada’s Innovation Initiative – Sport Support Program. According to Sport Canada, “The Innovation Initiative is a subcomponent of the Sport Support Program which supports the development of Canadian athletes and coaches… [It] enables the testing of innovative quality sport approaches, the trial of new programs, strategies, and technologies.” The hope of the Northern Community Development Pathway proposal is to expand the existing Skills Academy program to Indigenous youth. Unfortunately, Hockey Canada found out just before the incubator that its proposal was not accepted, which means that a new source of funding will need to be found.

Someone in the chat asked if Hockey Canada is working to create more balance between the high performance budget and grassroots funding. According to Hockey Canada’s 2019-2020 Annual Report, 7% of the budget goes to development and growing the game, whereas 18% goes to national teams. Pattyn was unable to join us for the live Q&A but has provided the following response via email:

The perceptions around an imbalance in funding isn’t lost on us and we can say with confidence that when the Senior Leadership Team goes through Business Planning to determine priorities that there is definitely a focus on grassroots, while also understanding our commitment to gold medal performances when we represent Canada at International Events and Olympics.  It may be important to note for example that the hosting of the World Junior Championships impacts revenue which in turn proportionately gets allocated to Member Branches nationally to support grassroots hockey.  

Our structure dictates that we create national grassroots programming and the delivery of these programs occurs through the Member branches across the country.  There is a significant amount of work within the development of programs and our Member Engagement department that has a direct link to grassroots hockey including, but not limited to, programs such as Dreams Come True, First Shift and Esso Fun Days which are initiatives to grow the game.  Also of significance is the Assist Fund launched by the Hockey Canada Foundation whose sole purpose is to support accessibility to grassroots hockey including some targeted donor dollars for BIPOC. 

We acknowledge that there is always room for improvement and as we embark on Strategic Planning one of our key priorities will be Growth and Retention at the grassroots level.

Rebecca Chambers & Gracie Sacca, R.I.S.E Academy (@blowthewhistl11): The #BlowTheWhistleOnRacism campaign was started by five students at the R.I.S.E Academy in Ottawa, Ontario. These minor hockey players took it upon themselves to do more to address racism in hockey. With the help of Bob Dawson, they created the #BlowTheWhistleCampaign, which mimics the #IceBucketChallenge for ALS. Those who want to take the challenge can follow the steps outlined above and are asked to follow up their social media post with a donation to either Black Girl Hockey Club or Black History Ottawa.

David Klatt (@dnklatt): Klatt works for the NHL as part of its social media team but was at the incubator representing himself. Klatt leads weekly “Black Lives Matter” sessions with other white colleagues from the NHL as a way to educate themselves about racism. These sessions have been occurring for the last six months and sessions can have anywhere from four to twelve staff present. They focus on consuming and discussing works by BIPOC authors.

Miles Elliott (@theinclusion.initiative): The Inclusion Initiative was founded with the vision to increase the number of underrepresented groups in sports, which include women, visible minorities, those with disability, and the LGBTQ+ community. Striving to increase equity, diversity, and inclusion in all sports around the world, they donate all of the net proceeds to organizations that seek to create opportunities for these underrepresented groups to make sports more inclusive. For every collection release, a new beneficiary will be chosen. They hope that through their gear and apparel we can help them continue to support these organizations and bring awareness to the need for more diverse representation in our teams, clubs, and communities. Their first beneficiary is the Black Girl Hockey Club, which they have been supporting since December and will continue to support until the end of March. As of March 14th , The Inclusion Initiative has raised $4,000 and are looking to donate as much as they can to support minority girls in hockey. By purchasing their apparel, you take the pledge to play for inclusion. They would like to collaborate with more teams and leagues. Elliott gave the example of practice jerseys with #IPlayForInclusion that could be auctioned off.

Sarah Hilworth (@Hilworth): Hilworth is the Head coach for the University of New Brunswick’s women’s team. She has used the pandemic as an opportunity to empower her athletes with off-ice education around race, gender, sexuality, and disability. She spoke about the team bus as a metaphor for travelling this journey collectively and figuring out where to go next. The team has started doing land acknowledgements before their games.

Dr. Sam McKegney (sam.mckegney@queensu.ca) pinch hit for Dr. Robert Henry. The backstory involves the closure of the Beardy’s Blackhawks AAA team in 2020 (check out the short doc HERE). The Blackhawks offered a unique opportunity for Indigenous and settler players to play together, and for settlers to experience anti-Indigenous racism simply by wearing the Beardy’s Blackhawks jersey. The league created new criteria for team inclusion and everything pointed to the exclusion of Beardy’s, which meant that many AAA players lost their spots and were not picked up by other teams. The goal now is create an entire AAA league, beginning in Saskatchewan, that will eventually expand throughout the continent. Following the lead of the Six Nations lacrosse team that competes in international competitions, the all-Indigenous league would then create the possibility of an Indigenous team for international hockey competition. To learn more about the all-Indigenous team, please contact Mel Parenteau and Rick Gamble as identified on the slide. To learn more about the Indigenous Hockey Research Network check out THIS site.

Michael Hirshfeld (mikeh@nhl-coaches.com): Hirshfeld is the Executive Director for the NHL Coaches Association and explained what the NHL is doing to diversify the coaching ranks. The program is targeted at North American BIPOC coaches but also includes one coach in Australia. Coaches in this program have the opportunity to connect with other BIPOC coaches in exclusive digital spaces and receive other networking opportunities as a way to open up the traditional hiring pipelines.

Paul Matthews (Paul.mattews@mlse.com), Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment: The former Leafs Forever podcast is being replaced by the Barrier Breakers podcast. Matthews explained, “We are a cargo ship, not a speedboat. And, we exist in the context of a marketing department” but the impetus is to challenge old hockey myths and narratives to make them more inclusive. He also commented that because the Leafs have done more losing than winning in recent decades (insert chuckles here from non-Leafs fans), it has forced the storytelling side of MLSE to dig deep into the archives for stories — some of which were not necessarily proud stories to tell but nonetheless important. Breaking Barriers is looking for BIPOC players and contributors to the game to help build out the narrative. The following are episodes that have already been released:

Additional Work Shared (in no particular order):

Bryan Heal (bryan.heal@mlselaunchpad.org), MLSE Foundation: The MLSE Foundation has launched the Change the Game research project, an Ontario-wide youth survey with the purpose of understanding sport and play-related access, engagement, anti-racism and equity issues in the wake of COVID-19. We aim to survey thousands of youth and parents of youth across Ontario. We would be grateful for your help to share and promote the survey with youth aged 6-29, parents/families and organizations working with youth in your network. Participation involves filling out a single, anonymous, <10min online questionnaire, and respondents will be eligible for a prize draw of future tickets or an apparel package. The feedback shared will inform policy and funding investments into youth sport after the pandemic. All insights and recommendations will be made publicly available for all to access and use in their work. You can find more information about the project, including the survey at https://www.mlsefoundation.org/how-we-give/research. For event organizers: Please note that this initiative is Ontario specific. The data and results will be multi sport in nature, inclusive of both the youth experience with hockey, as well as other sports.

Lee Anna Osei (info@thebcca.com), Black Canadian Coaches Association: The BCCA is a community of sport participants – athletes, coaches, sport academics, and health representatives devoted to dismantling racism in all its forms. A non-profit organization, the BCCA launched the inaugural Black Female Coach Mentorship in partnership with the Coaching Association of Canada. Additionally, the BCCA serves as a community hub and liaison for accessing , connecting and empowering BIPOC in the sport sector, including conducting sport related race based data collections for projects, and distributing economic or social supports advancing health and physical activity initiatives. Founder, Lee Anna Osei, is a longtime gender and racial equity advocate, and has been recognized as 1 of 30 most influential women in Canadian sports. The BCCA has 3 objectives: celebration, advocacy through allyship, and networking.

Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (@PWHPA): The PWHPA held optional monthly anti-racism sessions over Zoom covering topics such as race as a social construction, whiteness, Black history, Indigeneity, cultural appropriation, and intersectionality. Players contributed to Black History Month research for the social media team and practiced writing land acknowledgements for their regional training hubs. The PWHPA partnered with the NHL and Classroom Champions to be a “Willie Impact Ally,” which involved a virtual panel discussion featuring Prime Minister Trudeau, Willie O’Ree, and Sarah Nurse, for select schools across Canada. Land acknowledgement helmet stickers were created for the Dream Gap Tour showcases in New York and Chicago with the help of Indigenous artist, Anthony Tracey (@vision_artworks on Instagram). Both the Minnesota and New Hampshire teams have stickers acknowledging the land where they reside.

Jamie James (blackwidowrising16@gmail.com): Rating and reviewing NHL team’s statements on anti-racism/BLM on Tumblr, as well as other anti-racism related work regarding hockey on Tumblr.

Jashvina Shah (@icehockeystick) and Evan F. Moore (@evanFmoore) are co-authoring a book about toxicity in hockey culture for Triumph Books. “Members of hockey — fans, journalists, pundits, parents, scouts, coaches, players, and administrators — and the sport’s structure ensure that sport is a rest haven for racism, homophobia, xenophobia, bullying, sexism and violence on and off the ice. Our book aims to be the change. It won’t be comfortable, but we will explain in excruciating detail what’s wrong, why it’s wrong and how to change it.” The book will be available in the fall of 2021.

Asian American Athlete Association: “The goal of the Asian American Athlete Association is to increase and advocate for diversity in sport, while empowering, inspiring and giving Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) athletes every opportunity to successfully pursue their passion in sport. Our efforts include scholarship funds, educational resources, and a social community for mentoring and networking. Sports are embedded into American society, playing a major historical role in breaking divisive social barriers and uniting individuals from different backgrounds with common goals and respect. Diversity in sport reinforces respect and the value of one-another in wider society. However, minimal presence can only result in minimal impact. We’re launching our #EQUALITYINSPORT movement to raise awareness and make impactful change.”

Aaron Dutra and Colin Darling are two 4th year students in the Ryerson Sports Media program working on a research based media project that centers around conversations with the people calling for change within hockey’s culture. It will focus on the people working to shift hockey culture and covers topics like anti-racism, homophobia, hazing, and misogynistic attitudes to name a few. They are looking to speak with researchers, the people behind grassroots movements, and former players to dissect the issues facing hockey and hopefully inspire change through storytelling. Dutra can be reached at adutra@ryerson.ca.

National Women’s Hockey League (@NWHL + @NWHLPA):

  • June 2020 WNBPA NWSLPA + NWHLPA Juneteeth activities raising awareness for Black Owned Restaurants and sharing Black Joy
  • D&I Committee established Pre-Season of 2020-2021 season
  • Consulted on End Racism patches for 2020-2021 NWHL Season and established a zero tolerance policy against racism in the NWHL
  • Internal education starting post-season 2021, in conjunction with RISE and Black Girl Hockey Club, aiming to educate its athletes and staff
  • Black History Month celebration of our BIPOC athletes
  • NWHLPA organized Anti-Racism Book Club – driving book sales through BIPOC owned bookstores
  • NWHLPA run Celebration of Life for George “Chief” Armstrong
  • Large scale player/team driven fundraising for Black Girl Hockey Club raising over $40,000

Jen Southall (jensouthall@ymail.com): “Many of us, myself included, can coach/play able-bodied hockey. Still, there is a lack of inclusion, let alone discussions of critical positions in the hockey infrastructure open to disabled BIPOCs. I am currently working to improve the representation/expand awareness on disability and to redefine the current concept of disability as the word disability has a negative association in society.”

Kris Kolanko (@kolanko11): Kolanko is a graduate student doing an Applied Research project for his Master of Business Administration program. His research is focused on systemic racism in Canadian hockey that involves a participant survey for Canadian residents and permanent residents over 18. The survey aims to highlight where many inequities exist in the game of hockey for players, volunteers, coaches, officials, or league executives. He has found it challenging to get enough responses to make the data relevant enough to draw reasonable conclusions. The hope is that this research will spark conversations that will lead to actionable initiatives that create more racial equity in the game. The survey can be found HERE and Kolanko can be emailed at kkolanko11@gmail.com.

Dr. Martin Hyun: “We from Hockey is Diversity are an organization that has been in existence since 2010. We have been promoting diversity and inclusion for over 10 years. Being based in Berlin, Germany sometimes we feel that the engagement and outreach is confined and restricted to North America. But European countries are affected by demographic change. It would be great if we can make this a global movement supporting each other and exchanging knowledge on how to move forward. How can we make this an international movement?”

Mitchell Avis is a volunteer with the First Nations Hockey Equipment Drive (https://fnhed.theiropportunity.com) that collects new/gently used hockey equipment to distribute amongst 35+ First Nations in Ontario to empower participation in hockey. If anyone wants to reach out with ideas for partnerships or other ideas, Avis can be reached at avis.mitchell@gmail.com. They are also in need of hockey bags this year!

Moe Hasham (moe@hockey4youth.org) is the Founder and Executive Director at Hockey 4 Youth Foundation, which fosters social inclusion for newcomer and high priority youth through access to free ice hockey and the off-ice experiential learning T.E.A.C.H. program (Tech, Entrepreneurship, Arts, Community, Healthy-Active Living). Since launching a pilot program in 2015 in East Toronto, we have grown to 8 programs in 3 cities (Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal) and have worked with 500+ youth of all genders who represent 32 countries of origin including: Syria, Jamaica, Pakistan, Mexico and Ethiopia. We are going to expand to additional cities post-pandemic. On March 31, 2021, Hasham will be speaking at the “Growing the Game: Exploring career paths on & off the ice” virtual panel discussion, hosted by South Asians in Sports. Other speakers include Tom Renney (CEO Hockey Canada), Randip Janda (Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi & Sportsnet), Harkie Singh (NHLPA Certified Agent), Amrit Gill (Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi). Register for the pane event HERE.

Stephanie Geosits (@batherup + @allaboutsportSG): Lessonsfromwillie.com launched in February 2021 to provide free access to curriculum and teachers guides to lead anti-racism discussions based on the “Willie” documentary about Willie O’Ree.

One thought on “Anti-Racism Incubator: Showcasing your work

  1. Pingback: Islanders Gameday News: Play on; Dobson out of protocol; Love for Pelech, Pulock

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