MJHL takes part in anti-racism education seminar

WINNIPEG, Man. As part of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s new anti-racism player education program, league staff, team executives, team staff members and players from each MJHL member team took part in the first player education seminar earlier this week.

Led by high school teacher and MJHL Alumni, Wade Houle, each seminar covers a range of Indigenous topics & issues, sensitivity & cultural awareness training in anti-discrimination and anti-oppression education.  Wade 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 cannot thank the MJHL enough for the opportunity to speak to so many great young hockey players and minds, I had a great experience,” said Wade Houle. “Even though we were distanced physically, I really could feel a connection with the players and staff.  Some of the topics and ideas I shared with everyone that night can be very difficult to discuss.  I believe that is the point, to stay open minded to difficult topics so it gives us time to reflect and act upon.”

“Facing a challenging topic is hard, but if you have a safe, caring, and trusting environment, then it lessens the blow, and eases the tension.  I believe on October 26th, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League started that journey.  We started to create that loving and caring environment that allows players to be able to speak up and speak out,” Houle concluded.

According to MJHL Commissioner, Kevin Saurette, this was a step in the right direction to ensure the MJHL is a part of the solution moving forward.

“It was an important night this past Tuesday for the MJHL with all 12 member teams taking part in the inaugural MJHL Anti-Racism Player Education Seminar,” shared Saurette. “The goal with this initiative is to create a truly inclusive environment through being proactive instead of reactive when addressing racism and discrimination in our sport, which unfortunately still exists.”

“Education is an important and necessary step to invoke positive change while providing a better understanding of the harmful effects racism and discrimination of any kind can have on individuals and throughout society. We can’t thank Wade enough for leading us through this crucial program to ensure we are part of the solution going forward,” finished Saurette.

Positionality & Intersectionality, Culture & Socialization, Prejudice & Stereotypes and Discrimination & Racism are areas that were covered during the online seminar and will help lay the foundation for learning about racism and discrimination.

The online seminar was Part 1 of the the MJHL Anti-Racism Player Education Program.  Part 2 will involve Wade visiting each MJHL team independently for a follow up in-person presentation in the coming months.