Hockey Nova Scotia is sending a warning to players, coaches and parents that they need to be better behaved, following recent reports of incidents involving racial slurs and homophobia.
In a memo released this week to all of its members, the governing body for hockey in the province stated there has been “an upward trend in reports of verbal abuse on and off the ice at our rinks in Nova Scotia.”
In the last several months, the organization said there have been serious allegations of racial slurs. There have also been reports of verbal abuse involving religion and sexual orientation.
“The memo is really about education and awareness regarding discrimination in the game,” said Amy Walsh, the executive director of Hockey Nova Scotia. “We have zero tolerance for any form of discrimination.”
One of the incidents Hockey Nova Scotia investigated happened at a game in Chéticamp, N.S., in December when 16-year-old Logan Prosper, a Mi’kmaw hockey player from Whycocomagh, N.S., said he was the victim of racial slurs.
The comments included things like, “You look like a turd,” and, “All Natives look like turds.”
Two years ago, the father of a 12-year-old Halifax hockey player said his son, who is black, had endured six years of racial slurs while playing minor hockey, including being called the N-word.
Hockey Nova Scotia wants all of its members to know that discriminatory language is unacceptable, whether it happens on the ice, in a dressing room, in the stands or in a rink parking lot.
“We’ve had other reports that are currently being investigated,” said Walsh. “Just one incident would be one too many, so that’s why we will continue to educate and bring awareness and use sport as a vehicle for social change.”
Hockey Nova Scotia is encouraging anyone who feels they have been verbally abused, in any capacity, to report it to them.
The memo, issued Monday, is asking all players and coaches to have a conversation about what is unacceptable behaviour.
Hockey Nova Scotia now has a new diversity and inclusion task force to help tackle any problems that may arise.
“It’s made up of individuals who are currently underrepresented in our game, and the reason for that is so we can learn ways to be more inclusive and more safe,” Walsh said.