Manitoba hockey player suspended for racial gesture

MANITOBA — A Manitoba hockey player has been suspended after a weekend game in which he appeared to make a racist gesture against a visiting team from Waywayseecappo First Nation.

The incident happened as the horn was sounded to end the game between the Dauphin Kings and the visiting Waywayseecappo Wolverines on Saturday with the Kings winning 3-2.

A Dauphin player raised his stick and made what seemed to be a bow-and-arrow gesture. The player was identified as 20-year-old defenceman Klim Georgiev, who was given a gross misconduct penalty, a minimum one-game suspension according to the rule of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

Video of the incident was circulated on social media after it was posted online by Hockey Indigenous, the well-known organization that aims to promote Indigenous involvement in hockey at all levels.

On Tuesday, February 22, Hockey Indigenous released the following statement:

“Hockey Indigenous understand that hockey culture and games can become very competitive, and exchange of words and action may arise. With saying that, Hockey Indigenous does not see lightly of what occurred of the incident between the Waywayseecappo Wolverings and the Dauphin Kinds in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. We are aware and acknowledge that the MJHL referees gave the Kings player a gross misconduct and the league suspending the Kings player immediately and upon investigation. A friendly reminder, the game happened on First Nation land, to a First Nation owned team and on a First Nation player.

Our main goal was to bring awareness of the systemic racism our people still endure on a daily basis. We do not condemn any hatred or threats towards the player, team, and league by any means but to understand that acts of racism and racism is a very sensitive issue.”

Hockey Indigenous then went on to recommend in the statement that the MJHL implement education from top to bottom of the league on a comprehensive scale incorporating Indigenous sensitivity training and resources for all players, officials, management, teams and league. It also suggested that each MJHL game and event be acknowledged that the games are played on Treaty 1, 2, 4, and 5 lands while respecting that hockey is a space for all.

Bridgette Lacquette, who is from Dauphin, also took to social media to write on Twitter: “Allowing this type of behaviour to continue is unacceptable. It’s important to stand up to it and address it. We can no longer sweep behaviour like this under the rug. It doesn’t matter if it’s ‘getting back at the other team,’ it’s racist.”

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