All-Black hockey game will celebrate the past, inspire the future: task force chair

A piece of Nova Scotia hockey history will be celebrated in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia this weekend as two all-black hockey teams take to the ice.

The two teams will meet Saturday night to commemorate a 1920s game between the Truro Victorias and the Africville Seasides of the Maritimes Colored Hockey League.

Speaking to CBC’s Tom Murphy on Friday, Dean Smith, the chair of Hockey Nova Scotia’s diversity and inclusion task force, said the original game was a “fierce battle.”

“A lot of people are looking forward to this rematch,” he said. “I think it’s important not to overlook our history or forget our history.”

Teams in Saturday’s game will wear Maritime Hockey League colored jerseys. (Submitted by Dean Smith)

Smith said the Colored Hockey League had a big impact on the game.

“The league contributed to many of the innovations you see in hockey today. They just aren’t recognized for it,” he said. “So it’s important to remember that history and show it on the ice.”

Inspire the future

The game isn’t just about celebrating the past, Smith said. It’s also about inspiring future athletes.

“A lot of kids of color don’t see themselves in the game of hockey,” said Smith, whose task force studied racism in the game. “I think it’s an opportunity for young people to see those who like them on the ice to excel in this sport.”

Smith said growing up, incidents of racism turned him away from the game and he hopes this event will help show that hockey is for everyone.

“If this is truly a Canadian game, if this is Canada’s winter pastime, then every child, regardless of race, regardless of socio-economic background, should have the opportunity to play,” said said Smith.

The event will also include a demonstration by Black Youth Ice Hockey (BYIH), which Smith says is proof that his task force is helping to involve more children of color in the sport. Smith drew attention to Indigenous Women’s Hockey Program as another example.

The two teams will face off Saturday night at the RBC Center in Dartmouth. The puck drops at 6:30 p.m. AT with the BYIH display starting after the second period.

Catherine J. Martinez