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'Everybody seems to think it's going to come naturally': Hockey parents frustrated by the sport's toxic culture

Hockey Canada is grappling with public ramifications over how the organization has resolved sexual assault allegations in the past. Some Canadians have questioned whether hockey’s national governing body can be trusted and are calling for action and change at all levels of the sport.

“I’m not sure women can trust an organization with that kind of history,” said Beatrice van Dijk, a mother of four daughters who played hockey in Toronto. cross-country examination.

“I am not sure that parents who are concerned that young men are being raised in non-toxic, sexually insensitive power environments can trust institutions that enable such behavior.”

Hockey Canada’s controversy began in May when the organization reached a settlement with a young woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted by eight Canadian Hockey League players in 2018, including members of that year’s World Junior Team. rice field.

Since then, Sports Canada, a branch of the Federal Heritage Service, has frozen funding for Hockey Canada. Several sponsors, including Scotiabank and Tim Hortons, have either suspended or withdrawn their sponsorship of the organization.

Halifax Police also opened an investigation in 2003 into another gang sexual assault allegation involving members of Canada’s 2003 World Junior Team.

lack of accountability

Hockey Canada executives, who testified before a House committee on Wednesday, have offered 21 petitioners $8.9 million for sexual abuse settlements from a “National Equity Fund” generated by membership dues and investments since 1989. said that he paid

It’s an embarrassing time for Canadians involved in hockey.-Beatrice van Dijk, mother of four daughters who plays hockey

Van Dijk, whose husband was a professional hockey player in Germany, said this showed that no steps had been taken to hold people accountable.

“It’s an embarrassing time for a Canadian involved in hockey,” she said.

“I don’t understand why you would want to accept an invitation to attend a hockey event in Canada.

Van Dyke, 48, who now lives in New York State, says cases like the one Hockey Canada is currently handling are not new.

“Everyone seems to think it’s going to stop naturally and nobody wants to talk about the details.”

Listen | Hockey Moms on Hockey Canada Scandal’s ‘Complete Institutional Failure’:

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Beatrice Van dijk is a mother of four daughters who played hockey in Toronto.

long-standing problem

Former Canadian Hockey League goalie Brock McGillis has experienced hockey’s toxic culture firsthand.

He played for the Windsor Spitfire and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhound of the Ontario Hockey League from 2001 to 2002.

Former Ontario Hockey League player Brock McGill came out as gay in November 2016 and is now an activist in the LGBTQ+ space. (Courtesy of Brock McGillis)

“The ramifications of being a gay man there, hiding who you are, following the norm, becoming a feminized hockey buddy — and what it did to me, I mean, to be honest. , I went home…and was trying to die…I killed myself.” cross-country medical examination.

McGillis, who came out as gay in November 2016, said homosexuality is one of the key barriers to hockey culture.

“People wear the same clothes and talk the same way, whether it’s you or not.”

According to McGillis, players are assumed to be predominantly white, mostly middle-to-upper class, and usually heterosexual, so in the locker room, the use of language and participation in actions were not allowed. An environment is created in which people can speak and act without accountability. It hurts women, minorities and people in the LGBTQ community.

“Next, we see thoughts and behaviors that lead to bigotry, misogyny, and sexual assault.”

Listen | Academic Teresa Fowler on Persistent Issues of Sexism in Hockey Canada.

6th day9:02Persistent Problems with Sexism and Misogyny in Hockey Canada

Teresa Fowler, Assistant Professor of Education at Concordia College in Edmonton, was part of a team that interviewed elite-level men’s hockey players about their experiences with sexism, misogyny, and excessive masculinity in the sport. Her research shows that the problem is pervasive, persistent, and systemic, she says.

keep silent

Part of the blame falls on the adults in these spaces for not doing more to hold these players accountable.

“And usually hockey players have hockey babies,” he said. “Parents from the hockey culture get their kids hooked on hockey. Hockey is a culture that has been learned and normalized.”

No one wants to be someone who looks like they’re stirring a pot.– Teresa Bailey, Co-Founder of Canadian Hockey Moms

Teresa Bailey, a hockey parent for nearly 16 years and co-founder of the advice website Canadian Hockey Moms, says parents want to have these conversations but speak publicly out of fear that their children will be affected. I am avoiding

“Everybody wants to talk about these things, but I don’t want to get into trouble with our member associations or local associations,” she said. cross-country medical examination.

“Nobody wants to be someone who looks like they’re stirring a pot.”

Watch | Advocates say hockey culture needs to change:

Hockey culture needs to change amid new sexual assault allegations, advocates say

Demands for accountability and changes to hockey culture have increased from Hockey Canada after police launched an investigation into an alleged sexual assault at the 2003 World Juniors.

Bailey feels in power in a minor, usually volunteer-based, hockey association that isn’t well-equipped or trained to handle the toxic parts of hockey culture.

“It’s hard,” she said. “I’ve seen people really not know how to handle some of the issues that come up.


Bailey believes the best way to combat the toxic atmosphere is for Hockey Canada and similar associations to encourage diversity within their teams, coaching staff and boards.

“I don’t know how to do that other than to put dissident people in there who will never be closed.”

Van Dijk sees an opportunity to revise hockey culture in the future. The first step is for parents to oppose their wallets when it comes to paying fees at the local hockey association.

“I will pay you these fees, but only if you don’t pay any provincial hockey association until that provincial hockey association stands up to Hockey Canada,” she said.

“Our fees are to enable insane, toxic and predatory sexual practices among young men, and we don’t want that kind of society.”

By Muhammad Rakini. Produced by Abby Plenor and Steve Howard.