Sheldon Kennedy feels the weight of what will be discussed at the Hockey Canada summit in Calgary.
The two-day Beyond the Boards Summit, Friday and Saturday, is designed to address a root cause identified at the heart of racism, s*xism, homophobia, discrimination and exclusion in hockey.
How masculinity is defined in hockey – glorifying toughness and violence, “brother culture”, “locker room code” – and how elite men’s hockey dominates sport culture in Canada are at the agenda.
Kennedy, a former NHL player and survivor of junior hockey s****l abuse by Graham James, will speak at the summit.
The member of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame for his work in educating and preventing child abuse says the summit is a critical opportunity to begin making fundamental and necessary changes in hockey culture.
“I really think it’s important,” Kennedy told The Canadian Press. “It is essential that we achieve this. The most important thing is to accept the fact that we have a problem and that we must solve it.
“It can be awkward for some, it can be exciting for others, it can be very uncomfortable, but I think change causes all of these feelings when it happens. We talk about change. I think the game has to change.
“I can understand being a foreigner. For many years I was teased on the ice because of my relationship with Graham James. People walked on pine cones around Sheldon or didn’t include him.
All provincial and territorial members, the Canadian Junior Hockey League, the Canadian Hockey League, the American Hockey League, the NHL, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the new Professional Women’s Hockey League will be represented among the participants in the summit,” said Hockey Canada’s chief operating officer. Pat McLaughlin.
The program was developed based on research by Teresa Fowler, an a*sistant professor at Concordia University in Edmonton, who wrote that hockey works well for white heteros****l men and not so well for others.
“To get to the root, we have to start peeling away all of those layers,” Fowler told CP. “What stems from hypermasculinity are these things: racism, homophobia.
“One of the consequences of hypermasculinity that has gotten us to this point is s*xism. And in our data, s*xism reeked everywhere, but the players themselves didn’t identify it as s*xism. It’s just the nature of men’s ice hockey culture.
Other than Wilton Littlechild recognizing the lands and blessing the elders, no blacks, aboriginals or people of color will show up at this summit. That will happen at a later summit, McLaughlin said.
“It’s one of a series. We want to tackle ‘isms’ as we move forward,” he explained. “It’s really, really important that we start somewhere and so we started with toxic masculinity.
“Each topic, or part of the culture that we try to address, will determine who the audience will be as we move forward. This particular audience will be really close to what Dr. Fowler is talking about and they will be incredibly uncomfortable and intentionally. It must.
Bill Proudman, co-founder of White Men As Full Diversity Partners and who has worked with the NHL, is among the summit presenters. New Federal Sports Minister Carla Qualtrough is also expected to speak on Friday.
Hockey Canada has undergone a leadership overhaul in the 15 months since news broke that the organization had settled a lawsuit with a woman who alleged she was gang-raped by members of the Canadian hockey team. junior men’s hockey at a gala in London, Ont., in 2018. .
The allegations have not been proven in court. Revelations that Hockey Canada used a portion of registration fees to settle such lawsuits have fueled a firestorm of criticism and plunged the organization into crisis.
The scrutiny has amplified other longstanding issues, including hockey’s unaffordability for low-income people and abusive hazing that has been the subject of lawsuits against junior hockey leagues and teams.
Kennedy takes one problem approach at a time. He wants people leaving the top to feel ready for change and not overwhelmed.
“When I look at my story, it’s about pa*sers-by and how many people didn’t do anything,” Kennedy said.
“We need to be able to empower, encourage and involve managers and participants so that they feel safe enough to intervene when they see bad behavior.
“It’s about psychological safety. People feel safe enough to be who they are, to be able to bring up a problem, a concern and resolve it.
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