MJHL implements anti-racism player education program

WINNIPEG, Man. – The Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) has announced the implementation of a new Anti-Racism Player Education Program which will strengthen our league policies regarding verbal taunts, insults, intimidation actions based on discriminatory behaviors.

The MJHL continues to enhance our current Policies and Code of Conduct in support of our indigenous and racialized community athletes, staff, families and communities.

Anti-Racism Player Education Seminars

Beginning in the 2021-22 season, anti-racism education seminars targeted for MJHL players, coaches, and support staff will be provided to each member team covering a range of Indigenous topics & issues, sensitivity & cultural awareness training in anti-discrimination and anti-oppression education.

The goals of the anti-discrimination education seminars are to:

  1. Provide players / staff with language and terminology concerning anti-discrimination and anti-oppression.
  2. Assist players / staff in recognizing and identifying problematic behaviors in themselves and others.
  3. Involve players / staff to actively engage and commit to promoting a respectful and supportive hockey culture.

Topics that will be covered during the education seminars will lay the foundation for learning about racism and discrimination:

Positionality & Intersectionality, Culture & Socialization, Prejudice & Stereotypes and Discrimination & Racism.

The seminars will be led by MJHL alumni Wade Houle.  Wade graduated from the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba in 2006 and also completed his Education Graduate Diploma from Brandon University in 2018.  Wade grew up in the Metis community of Vogar, MB.  His mother is from the Lake Manitoba First Nation and his father is from the Ebb & Flow First Nation, from which Wade is a band member.

Presently, Wade is a high school teacher in Dauphin, MB, has been an educator for the past 15 years and is currently completing his Master’s Degree Thesis in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at Brandon University.  In February of 2020, Wade started a small business called Bright Sky Consulting where he works with a variety of businesses and organizations with the implementation of their in-house discrimination and racial sensitivity training.

“I am excited about the opportunity to work with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and contributing to players and personnel on becoming anti-racist and anti-oppressive.  This shows not only a commitment to the teams, but a commitment to creating contributing and caring citizens in the Manitoba community,” Houle expressed.

“Through internal discussions as a league over the course of the past season, it became apparent that there is much more that the MJHL could and should be doing to address racism and discrimination in our sport while also providing important and necessary anti-racism education for our players / staff.  We know that discrimination unfortunately still exists in our society and this type of education is required for change to take place. This program will play an important role in the MJHL being part of the solution going forward,” said Kevin Saurette, MJHL Commissioner

Addressing Verbal taunts, Insults or Intimidation Actions or Behaviors based on Discriminatory Grounds (race, religion, color, sexual orientation, etc.)

The MJHL Board of Governors passed a motion during the 2021 MJHL AGM to strengthen MJHL policies and review procedures regarding verbal taunts, insults or intimidation actions or behaviors based on discriminatory grounds (race, religion, color, sexual orientation, etc.)

Going forward, any player, team official, executive member, or any other Hockey Canada member who is found, to have acted contrary to our Anti-Discrimination Policy, will be assessed the following minimum automatic penalties:

1st Infraction – Minimum 3 Game Suspension

2nd Infraction – Minimum 5 Game Suspension

3rd Infraction – Indefinite Suspension

**Any party failing to cooperate with the fact-finding process may be subject to suspension as determined by the MJHL**

**Currently, if any of the above are reported in the on-ice officials post game report, following investigation, it is an automatic minimum suspension following the above suspension guidelines**

“The MJHL is committed to providing a positive, respectful and inclusive hockey experience for all participants in a safe sporting environment, free of discrimination,” shared MJHL Commissioner, Kevin Saurette.

Hundreds of young athletes of all backgrounds from across North America have taken to the ice in the MJHL over the years and continue to greatly contribute to the success of the league. The MJHL prides itself on working to ensure an inclusive atmosphere for all players, staff and their families.

“Through this balanced approach of both educating players and strengthening our review and sanction policies, we aim to raise awareness within our players and staff, to contribute positively to society and   nurture an inclusive Hockey Culture within our league,” Saurette concluded.

“It’s been ongoing for many years but it’s now time to try and do something about it, it affects everybody. To experience it first hand, it really pisses you off. Every non-treaty person in this country should be educated. We are all equal and it doesn’t matter what colour you are,” Waywayseecappo First Nation Chief, Murray Clearsky said.

“This is exactly what the game of Hockey and other sports need, is Education. Educating our players is the first step in eliminating this from our game. Understanding what a negative impact racism & discrimination has on people, will make a difference. This by any means is not an epidemic in our game, but it is present. The Changes implemented to the MJHL’s policy regarding discipline and suspensions will hopefully be a last resort. It is our mission to eliminate this from Society and we are hopeful other leagues in sport take notice,” shared Taylor Harnett, Wolverines Head Coach & General Manager.

“The MJHL has become truly diverse not only on the ice but in the stands and with corporate sponsorship as well. It is for these reasons the MJHL is standing up to racism so our great product can be enjoyed by all in an inclusive atmosphere,” Wolverines Governor, Morley Watson said.

MJHL APTN Hockey Hopes Program

The MJHL and APTN teamed up last season to help share the importance of inclusivity in the game of hockey through the APTN Hockey Hopes Program and look forward to making visits in person this coming season.

APTN Hockey Hopes has each MJHL team making two school visits to First Nations and non-First Nations schools in their region, where players will read to a classroom, share the importance of inclusivity in hockey and answer questions from the curious students.