Manitoba JHL sets the tone for anti-racism in hockey

MANITOBA — On June 9, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League announced that it will suspend any players, coaches, team executives and other Hockey Canada members who violate the new league’s anti-discrimination policy.

Starting next season, those involved in the sport and team function will be provided anti-racism education seminars. The seminars will cover Indigenous issues, as well as anti-discrimination and anti-oppression education.

The goal will be to educate league members about discriminatory and oppressive language, as well as help them to identify “problematic behaviours” and ultimately create a more respectful and inclusive hockey culture.

The new standard is hoped to be the spark to ignite real change.

The seminars will be taught by Ebb and Flow First Nation member Wade Houle, a former MJHL player who identifies as Métis and Anishinaabe and is now a high school teacher in Dauphin. He also consults on discrimination and racial sensitivity training, and witnessed many cases of racism occur around him.

The decision was voted on at the league’s recent annual general meeting and Houle hopes to bring that to the MJHL and that it helps the entire Manitoba community as a result.

Seminars will “lay the foundation for learning about racism and discrimination,” and will deal with topics like race, gender and cultural issues.

In addition to the education seminars, the league is announcing automatic minimum suspensions for anyone in the league — including MJHL players, team officials and executives — who is found to have discriminated against someone, the release says.

Someone who verbally taunts, insults, intimidates or otherwise discriminates against someone will be suspended three games for a first infraction, five games for a second and an indefinite suspension for a third infraction, the release says.

The league did not specify how investigations will work or how incidents will be reported, but says anyone failing to co-operate in an investigation could be suspended.

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