A Nova Scotia hockey team says a commentator was removed from his post after making a discriminatory remark during a recent game suggesting bias against First Nations players.
The incident happened last Sunday during a Junior Hockey League game at Nova Scotia’s Trenton Minor Sports Community Centre.
In an action-packed third period, the Eskasoni Junior Eagles scored twice to tie the game against the Pictou County Scotians.
During the same period, the Scots took seven penalties while Eskasoni only received one.
Listening to a live stream online, fans heard a sports commentator suggest the penalties were unfair by asking ‘I wonder if he has a tie card’ – implying the referee picked the team according to the First Nation treated preferentially.
Eskasoni First Nation Chief Leroy Denny is the owner and president of the local team, which was formed about five years ago and includes Indigenous and non-Indigenous coaches and players.
“I was just shocked by the comment,” Denny said.
Strive to be inclusive
“I’m discouraged and saddened that this happened because there really is no place for this in hockey. As a team, we are always committed to inclusion.
Leroy Denny is chief of the Eskasoni First Nation and owner and president of the community’s junior ice hockey team. (Tom Ayers/CBC)
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, the Scotland team acknowledged ‘culturally insensitive’ comments were made to the referee and opposing team during Sunday’s game and an investigation was launched the following day .
The sports commentator was removed from his position and was no longer allowed to participate in any further live broadcasts. Radio-Canada News contacted the Scots for comment, but they did not respond in a timely manner.
Denny, who is an English and Mi’kmaw hockey commentator, says it’s important to have an open mind and use the right language.
He said the decision to remove the commenter was right.
“They did their part and, you know, there are guidelines and I believe that [league] The executive and also the squad, I think they did the right thing to respond to that,” he said.
“We just want to play hockey. That’s our goal, to win, to be competitive, and to make our players and fans feel safe and fun.
Radio-Canada News requested an interview with Hockey Nova Scotia, which is the governing body for all organized hockey in the province.
Spokesman Garreth MacDonald released a statement saying words and actions matter.
“Whether on or off the ice, there is no place for discriminatory language in ice hockey,” the statement said.
“THE [Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League] dealt with this case quickly and decisively. We support their actions. Ice Hockey Nova Scotia is committed to ensuring that rinks across our province are a safe and welcoming place for everyone.
Denny said his team, which won Sunday’s game in a shootout, will not be deterred by what happened.
“We’re just going to keep going and moving forward and hope that in the future things like this don’t happen again.”
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