Racism, discrimination in Greater Toronto Hockey League, independent committee finds
An independent committee's report on discrimination in minor hockey is saying that The Greater Toronto Hockey League has a long way to go.
The 131-page report, called a 'Roadmap for Change,' is the result of an investigation that began last December into discrimination and inequality in the Toronto league.
"It is clear that racism, sex, and gender-based discrimination and inequality exist significantly within the GTHL at all levels," the report's findings stated.
The independent committee investigating consisted of Carleton University law professor, Michael Smith; Olympic speed skater and mental health advocate, Anastasia Bucsis; judge and member of the Mississauga's of the New Credit First Nation, Justice Harry LaForme; former figure skating coach Leigh Felesky and father of NHL player PK Subban and long time coach Karl Subban.
Subban says that bringing these issues to light is a positive step.
"I feel really good about it," he said. "I mean I've felt good about it when my three boys played. I felt good about it when I coached in the league for 10 years and I can say today I feel better about it."
The Toronto league's president, Scott Oakman, said, "I don't want to say I was surprised by it. I was certainly disappointed by the extent that came to light, but that's why we undertook this work."
Over 2,000 players, parents, coaches and past members were surveyed. On the question of whether prejudice exists in the GTHL, more than half of all respondents from an underrepresented group agreed. When asked if the GTHL takes issues of racism and discrimination seriously, a significant portion disagreed or strongly disagreed.
Cases of discrimination in hockey have been in the spotlight in recent years. In 2019 former Flames player Akim Aliu spoke out about mistreatment over a decade ago.
'Roadmap for Change' states that there was often a failure to discipline such actions because they were considered part of the game.
The report is making 44 recommendations aimed at changing the look and feel of the league including;
- Hiring staff experience in equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives.
- Mandate board of directors be at least 30 per cent BIPOC individuals and 40 per cent female.
- Creating an anonymous hotline or office for people to report discriminatory actions. Directing each team to be financially transparent.
- Eliminating ethnic or stereotypical mascots or imagery from teams.
When asked about the recommendations, Oakman said, "the recommendations will be reviewed and considered and a plan will be established to implement them."
The GTHL says that they are looking into having the committee return in two years in order to see how the league has changed.
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