Racism and discrimination in the Greater Toronto Hockey League, according to an independent panel

An independent committee, formed by the Greater Toronto Hockey League, has found that racism and discrimination exist in the GTHL and that greater efforts are needed to promote a culture of acceptance and inclusion.

The committee identified 44 recommendations that the GTHL could consider making in order to bring about change in the area of ​​racism and discrimination.

“I think as human beings we have an obligation to create the safest possible environment for every young person who wants to play this game,” said Scott Oakman, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer. of the GTHL, to the Canadian Press.

These recommendations included reviewing reports of incidents where racial slurs were allegedly used but not heard, the elimination of ethnic or stereotypical mascots or imagery, and the implementation of a BIPOC coach mentorship program as well as improving opportunities for women to work and participate in the league.

“We recently announced a partnership with Hockey Equality, which is a charity led by Anthony Stewart. Anthony is a former GHTL player, a former NHL player and is currently a broadcaster with Sportsnet,” Oakman said. “And we’re going to partner with other organizations. There’s a relatively new organization called the Black Coaching Association of Canada, another example of a like-minded organization that we hope to work with to achieve some of the recommendations.”

These recommendations will be translated into actions by the GTHL.

The league has now created a formal third-party investigation process to investigate all accusations of discrimination, including those that occur in-game and go undetected by an on-ice official and, effective 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 the Chicago NHL team, will have to come up with new imagery.

GTHL is also looking to find ways to engage the LGBTQ2S+ community.

“There are great organizations that we have or will be partnering with,” Oakman said. “You Can Play is one of them. We have a regular dialogue with them and we have organized some special events with them.”

The growing problem of mental health issues among young athletes is another important issue that the GTHL seeks to address.

The GTHL has worked with the Canadian Mental Health Association and is eager to do more.

“We plan and plan to grow our relationship and partnership with them to provide the support to players in our organizations as well as the leaders of the organization so that they are properly equipped to support players who have health issues. mental,” Oakman said. .

The largest minor hockey league in the world

According to the league, despite the work it recognizes needs to be done, the committee said the GTHL “was seen as creating 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 over 40,000 registered participants in Markham, Mississauga, Toronto and Vaughan.

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

“Our jurisdiction for hockey is the most diverse population in the world gathered in a particular area, Oakman said. “So it was recognized that our participants did not reflect the participation that our geographic jurisdiction represents.”

In December 2020, the GTHL Board of Directors formed an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee which included Karl Subban, father of former GTHL stars and current NHL players, PK and Malcolm.

The committee was tasked with reviewing GTHL policies, protocols and practices and how the organization could create a safer environment when concerns about equity and diversity are raised.

Processes such as surveys, town hall meetings and individual interviews were used to collect data.