Independent committee finds racism, discrimination in Greater Toronto Hockey League

TORONTO — An independent committee, formed by the Greater Toronto Hockey League, has found that racism and discrimination do exist in the GTHL and that there is a need to put greater efforts into promoting a culture of acceptance and inclusivity.

The committee identified 44 recommendations that the GTHL may look to make in order to bring change in relation to racism and discrimination.

Included in these recommendations were the reviewing of incident reports where racial slurs were alleged to have been used but not heard, the elimination of ethnic or stereotypical mascots or imagery and the implementation of a BIPOC coaching mentorship program as well as to improve opportunities for women to work and participate in the league.

These recommendations will be turned into action by the GTHL.

The league has now created a formal investigative process by a third-party to probe all accusations of discrimination, including ones that occur in-game and go undetected by an on-ice official and, as of June 1, the use of any Indigenous names and logos will be banned _ meaning a team like the Mississauga Reps, whose logo is similar to that of the Chicago Blackhawks, will need to find new imagery.

According to the league, despite the work it acknowledges needs to be done, the committee said that the GTHL “was perceived to create a welcoming culture that takes issues of racism and discrimination seriously with education and training programs in place..

The GTHL is the largest minor hockey league in the world with more than 40,000 registered participants across Markham, Mississauga, Toronto, and Vaughan in Ontario.

This committee came about after the GTHL held what it called its “Transition Game” summit in November 2019, where the league came to the conclusion that an independent and systemic review of itself was needed.

In December 2020, the GTHL Board of Directors formed an equity, diversity and inclusion committee that included Karl Subban, father of former GTHL stars and current NHLers P.K. and Malcolm.

The committee was tasked with examining policies, protocols, and practices of the GTHL as they relate to racism and discrimination within the organization, how the league’s complaint policy and procedure operated, its educational materials and training, its leadership structure and how the organization might create a safer environment when concerns regarding equity and diversity are raised.

Processes such as surveys, town halls and one-on-one interviews were used to gather data.

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