The Ontario Human Rights Commission made headlines on Tuesday when they officially announced that they will be addressing the issue of anti-Indigenous racism in lacrosse in the new year.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission is targeting to meet late winter or early spring and discuss with Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation, the Ontario Lacrosse Association and the Canadian Lacrosse Association ways to bring up and resolve systematic racism targeting Indigenous lacrosse players.
“Lacrosse has long been a way for Indigenous communities to connect with each other in a spirit of trust, respect and honor,” Ontario Human Rights Commission interim chief commissioner Ena Chadha said. “But connections with non-Indigenous communities are quickly broken and trust is destroyed when they are fraught with harassment and abuse.”
Chadha went on to add, “Our goal is to build relationships that unite and uphold reconciliation, and encourage all to proactively address racism.”
Lacrosse holds a major role in the culture of Haudenosaunee people, who were playing the sport long before Europeans settled in North America.
“It is a gift from the Creator,” said Six Nations Elected Chief Mark Hill. “Lacrosse is the bridge that is meant to be shared with the world: in friendship, peace and unity. Our hope is that every man, woman and child that chooses to and wants to freely experience the thrill of playing the Creator’s game can do so in a healthy environment.”
According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, or OHRC for short, there will be a knowledgeable, experienced Indigenous facilitator at the meetings. Six Nations is requesting the sessions be held in person so they can have a big representation. This meeting will begin with those from the Six Nations community bringing up various problems, which is the first step towards healing in terms of rebuilding trust, accountability and promoting reconciliation — taking that first step towards the collective goal of addressing head on the issue of racism and making it a thing of the past.