Hockey Canada appoints Andrea Skinner as interim president
EDMONTON—Andrea Skinner, a Toronto lawyer with a background in inclusion and mental health, has become the first woman to lead Hockey Canada, becoming interim chair of the sport’s governing body board.
She replaces Michael Brind’Amour, who resigned Aug. 6, as Hockey Canada faces one of the biggest challenges since its founding in 1914 as it faces a national backlash over its handling of a lawsuit for an alleged gang rape incident in London, Ontario, in 2018.
Skinner’s term will expire in November when Brind’Amour’s was due to end. Skinner was named to the board in November 2020. Her election two years ago was the result of the organization’s bylaws being updated requiring a minimum of two men and two women on the board.
The change comes as Hockey Canada prepares to host the world junior hockey championships in Edmonton, the crown jewel of its calendar of hockey events, but which suffers from a distinct lack of buzz and a lack sponsorship dollars. The Canadians seem seemingly unwilling to cheer the organizations on after details of his cover-up of the 2018 incident involving the gold medal-winning team emerged.
Skinner practices law as a partner at Aird & Berlis LLP, where she also serves as chair of the diversity and inclusion committee and leads the firm’s mental health initiative.
In a press release announcing Skinner, Calgary-based Hockey Canada acknowledged that « recent events » have challenged the « trust » Canadians have in the organization.
“The board has come up with new ideas and perspectives, emphasizing inclusion and making the game more accessible to all Canadians. We recognize that there is still work to be done and we are committed to continuing to drive change, in the best interests of hockey and in accordance with the expectations of Canadians,” the organization’s statement read.
Brind’Amour’s resignation was the first domino in a backlash that has minor hockey associations considering withholding membership fees while parliamentarians try to figure out why the sexual assault allegations – and he there would be more than that of 2018 – were buried in silence – to fund rather than report higher up the chain of command to the sports minister.
Hockey Canada has also hired former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Thomas Cromwell to review the organization’s governance.
« As a board of directors, we listen to Canadians, » Skinner said in the press release. “We are working to make meaningful positive changes to the culture of the sport of hockey. I am proud of my lifelong commitment to hockey and honored to serve Hockey Canada as Chair of the Board; a Board of Directors that includes men and women of varying ages and life experiences, and representing different ethnic and cultural communities, including Indigenous Canadians and the LGBT2Q+ community.
« I sincerely believe the organization is taking positive steps to effect meaningful change from the grassroots level to the national high performance team level. »
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