With Canadian hockey seeking new leadership following recent sexual assault-related scandals, some players are working to fix hockey’s culture from the ground up.
Working with the Kawartha Sexual Assault Center in Peterborough, Ontario, members of the Douro Minor Hockey Association are learning about a range of topics, from consent and healthy relationships to bystander intervention and dealing with rejection.
Brittany McMillan, executive director of Kawartha, said: “Starting this training very young will foster the growth of the hockey community and show true leaders who lead to more professional hockey who can resist sexual violence and Gender-based violence,” the Sexual Assault Center told CTV National News.
The partnership follows allegations of sexual assault by former members of Canada’s men’s national youth team and Hockey Canada’s handling of the allegations, including disbursements from its national equity fund to settle sexual misconduct claims.
“As much as anyone, we’re appalled and disgusted by how it’s been handled, and it really got us thinking about how we can achieve better outcomes for the kids in our community,” Kerri Riel, secretary of the Douro Minor Hockey Association, told CTV National News.
There are about 200 players in the league between the ages of 5 and 18, and the goal is for everyone to take part in a program that focuses on a specific age group.
“It’s one of those things we’re doing that we can change instantly, the way we talk in the locker room affects the way we see the wider world, it affects our perspective,” said Luke Bentwierzen ( Luke Bentvelzen, repair coordinator with the Kawartha Sexual Assault Center, told CTV National News. “So we really want to make sure that’s where we start.”
For some, studying with teammates is easier than awkward conversations with parents.
“I’d rather learn with my team than on my own,” said 14-year-old Jack Hickey. “It’s a better learning environment.”
On Monday, Hockey Canada announced its nominees for a new board of directors, including five women and four men.
These include Cassie Campbell-Pascal, who led the Canadian women’s team to gold medals at the 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics.
Provincial and territorial members of Hockey Canada will vote Saturday on whether to accept the new slate of candidates.
Documents from Canadian media