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

B.C. offers early retirement, training fund for forest workers

Communities eligible for $100,000 for permanent closures

Photo Gallery: Terry Fox Run in Vanderhoof

Residents run to support cancer research

Vanderhoof runners win big at racing event held in Prince George

Brian Nemethy wins the 14 km men’s race for the fourth time and Nolan McCleary secured gold in the 5 km run for the second time.

Forestry, internet, housing and Bill 52 are some discussions council will bring up at UBCM

The Union of BC Municipalities conference will be held in Vancouver from Sept 23 to Sept 29. Vanderhoof mayor and some members of council will be attending it

Vanderhoof Airport Development society wants an aerodrome on the Nechako River

Since the DOV decommissioned the municipal dock, VADS and the district have been in a never-ending feud

Yearbook photo surfaces of Trudeau wearing ‘brownface’ costume in 2001

The report describes the occasion as an ‘Arabian Nights’-themed gala event

B.C. ‘tent city’ disputes spark call for local government autonomy

UBCM backs Maple Ridge after province overrules city

B.C. drug dealers arrested after traffic stop near Banff turns into helicopter pursuit

Antonio Nolasco-Padia, 23, and Dina Anthony, 55, both well-known to Chilliwack law enforcement

B.C. MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

Todd Stone, Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, introduced an anti-vaping bill in April

Chilliwack woman wins right to medically assisted death after three-year court battle

Julia Lamb has been the lead plaintiff in a legal battle to ease restrictions on Canada’s assisted dying laws

B.C. bus crash survivor petitions feds to fix road where classmates died

UVic student’s petition well over halfway to 5k signature goal

NDP, Liberals promise more spending, while Tories promise spending cuts

Making life more affordable for Canadians a focus in the 2019 election

UPDATE: Police probe third threat against a Kamloops high school in eight days

Police have not released any further details into what the threat includes

Most Read