Why Hockey NB Hires a Black Dragster to Lead Respect Workshops
When Hockey New Brunswick began tracking all complaints of discrimination last year, organizers expected to receive only a few.
Instead, 29 allegations were investigated, resulting in the suspension of 15 players for a minimum of five games, and up to 20.
General manager Nic Jansen said it was a sign the organization – the governing body for all ice hockey in the province – needed to take a different approach.
“So we decided to be more proactive,” he said. « And Normand was recommended to us as someone who could lead workshops on equity, diversity and inclusion. »
Normand Hector, who identifies as black and gay and performs in drag under the stage name Normani, has agreed to meet with players, parents and coaches in Moncton and the Saint John area, starting next month .
Local hockey groups had hired him to give presentations over the past few years.
Some concerns he heard made him believe that the change was going to take a lot of time and work.
« I’ve heard of bad behavior towards parents, » Hector said. « I hear about the lack of respect towards coaches. I hear that racial slurs are always uttered.
« I also hear that young girls want the same opportunities, the same equal chance, to play a game they love. »
Hector said he tries to promote empathy by encouraging players to treat each other the way they would like to be treated.
He asks them to imagine being verbally attacked about something they can’t change, like the color of their skin.
« I ask them how they would feel if someone deliberately wanted to make sure they smash you on the ice with this. How would you feel? »
When they reply that they wouldn’t like it at all, he asks why they would tolerate this behavior in their home or anyone else’s.
« Why go for the chinstrap? Because that’s what I call it, » Hector said. « If you say those words and aim for those things on the ice, you know you’re aiming for the jugular.
« And who told you it was OK to do this? You saw other people doing it and no action was taken on it, so automatically you jump on the bandwagon and you’re going to start do the exact same thing? My workshops are teaching players to think differently. »
If Hector feels he still hasn’t reached someone, he tells them that the world is changing and bullies and bigots are putting their own careers at risk.
He asks them to imagine having the chance to play professionally and then having to explain why they were written off for doing something inappropriate or cruel.
Hector believes that the world of hockey is forced to change, as evidenced by all the sponsors who abandoned Hockey Canada following its sexual assault scandal.
He also thinks the pressure should come from parents who pay « a huge amount of money » for their children to play sports.
« I think parents would be like, ‘OK, it’s going to end here and now. My son or daughter wants to play hockey. I want them to be treated fairly and equitably. My money is as good as everyone else’s so I want it. I ask.' »
More partnerships to come
Jansen said Hockey NB is also working on partnerships with experts who can deliver awareness workshops on sexual violence and toxic masculinity.
However, he said he was not ready to announce who those partners are until the details are finalized.
He also wants to make the sport more welcoming to girls.
Last year, Jansen said, female enrollment in the province increased by 16% while male enrollment decreased by about 6%.
Some municipalities haven’t changed their arena schedules to reflect that, he said.
« A lot of ice time is done historically, » he said.
« And if there’s no ice time, it’s hard for them to grow. »
He said the organization also aims to promote girls and women in leadership positions such as coaching and officiating and to have more female volunteers.
Third party investigator
Jansen said Hockey NB has also hired a third party to investigate the complaints.
He expects the number of complaints to increase next year as more people become aware of the complaints mechanism which instructs referees or witnesses of any race-based verbal provocation, insult or intimidation. , ethnicity, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation or disability. to report it.
He says Hockey NB needs more expertise to investigate these complaints competently and sensitively.
By engaging an outside party, he says Hockey NB will have more consistency and procedural fairness for Complainant and Respondent.
« We think this will be a big step in the right direction, » he said.