BIPOC group “disturbed” by allegations of 16-year-old hockey player facing racial slurs

The executive director of an advocacy group in Prince Edward Island said she was ‘disturbed’ when she heard that a 16-year-old was allegedly called the N word to several times during a recent hockey game in Charlottetown.

Halifax player Mark Connors, who is black, said he was the victim of racist slurs in his first game of the Falcons Early Bird tournament, which took place last week.

The Halifax Hawks U18 AA goaltender said players from a PEI team approached him later, along with a teammate at the hotel where the teams were staying, and told them that hockey was a “white man’s sport”.

“I am really sad for the young man. He is only 16 years old, he is a child. And especially when I read that it was not the first time that this has happened to him,” said Sobia Ali -Faisal, the Executive Director of BIPOC USHR (Black, Native, People of Color United for Strength, Home, Relationships).

“[The N-word] It’s such a damaging word, and for a young child to have to hear it, it has a huge psychological impact. So I felt really bad for this young man, I felt deranged. But I wasn’t surprised, and it made me sad. “

Ali-Faisal said his organization hears about many young people in Prince Edward Island who experience racism in school, including being called racist slurs by their peers.

The Hawks say they will boycott all tournaments in Prince Edward Island until the situation is resolved.

Wayne Connors, Mark’s father, said he sent a letter to Hockey PEI outlining the allegations. The letter was copied to Prime Minister Dennis King.

He said he had a phone call with the Prime Minister afterwards.

“It was a father-to-father call, and it goes a lot in my book,” he said. “I want to thank him.”

Connors said his son was deeply affected by the incident.

“I know he tries to hide things, but fathers know their sons and mothers do too,” he said. “He went very happy to play hockey, win or lose. And it’s unfortunate that it must have happened. It is as if we are taking a step back.

In a statement, the premier’s office said it hopes the incidents will be investigated by Hockey PEI

Mark Connors, a Halifax Hawks goaltender, says he was the target of racist slurs during a hockey tournament in PEI. (Wayne Connors)

“Premier King has contacted Wayne and expressed his sincere apologies for his son’s experience in Prince Edward Island and for reiterating that racism cannot and should not be tolerated in any province or province. in any frame, ever, “the statement read.

Hockey PEI said in a statement it opened an investigation into the allegations after being made aware of the incident on Nov. 24.

He said he received additional documents on Tuesday and would share his findings once the investigation is completed.

“Hockey PEI has a zero tolerance policy towards any act of discrimination or hatred within our sport or society as a whole, and takes these allegations of abuse very seriously,” he said. he declares.

Ali-Faisal said there has to be some education on the issue of racism for meaningful change to occur.

“Educate young people, educate everyone involved in Hockey PEI, make them understand what anti-black racism is, what racism is, what anti-black is,” she said. .

“Educate their parents as well… If children hear it at home, if their parents allow them to think that way and talk that way, then education… can actually be countered at home. “

Wayne Connors said racism does not belong to hockey.

“Just take other people’s feelings into account, you know,” he said. “These things are hurtful and there is no place in our game.”

Catherine J. Martinez