Black hockey player’s mother feels ‘relieved’ after suspensions for alleged racial abuse

The mother of a black minor hockey player in Gatineau, Que., who says she was racially assaulted by other players, has expressed relief after her son’s team announced that six of his teammates would be suspended.

Earlier this week, Anthony Allain-Samake and one of his teammates from The Intrepid of Gatineau The U15 AAA team had previously denounced incidents of racial slurs.

Samake’s mother, Julie Allain, says her son continued to play for the team despite knowing it was a racist environment.

Then on Friday the team, The Intrepid of Gatineaususpended six players in response to the allegations, and apologized to the two U15 AAA players and their families “following deplorable incidents on and off the ice”.

“Knowing that finally the message is, ‘Racism is not acceptable in hockey. It’s zero tolerance.’ It’s a relief for us,” Allain said.

The children will now see that something is going to happen. You can’t use words like that.– Vicky Deselliers, mother of a black minor hockey player

The suspensions came after the team conducted its own investigation, and the team says all players on the team will also complete a discrimination education and awareness course.

“We regret the impact they have had on the two young players targeted by the racist gestures and comments,” said Intrepid President Michel André in a statement, noting that those involved are all minors.

“We must provide our young athletes with organized sporting activities that take place in a healthy, safe and discrimination-free environment. We are determined to eliminate discriminatory behavior or comments towards players, coaches or officials or any other person.

Hockey Quebec also canceled the team’s last two games of the season, scheduled for this weekend, as part of a coordinated decision with the Quebec Hockey League of Excellence.

Vicky Deselliers, left, is seen with her son David Godwin. She says children like her son who are trying to play through racial abuse will now feel like they are being heard. (Alexander Behne/CBC)

“Someone hears” the victims

The governing body also wants “those involved in events that affect other U15 BB teams” to be suspended until investigations are concluded.

Two players in this league – David Godwin of Aylmer sailboats and Blesson Ethan Citegetse of hill wolves — were among area hockey players who recently said they were racially abused this season.

Godwin’s mother, Vicky Deselliers, says she was glad the incidents of racial abuse were finally being taken seriously.

“For the past few months, I thought everyone was trying to hide it,” Deselliers said.

“When you close your eyes you don’t see the problems, if you close your ears you don’t hear, so finally I feel like someone hears them. Someone wants to make sure that coming to an end.”

Hockey Quebec president Yve Sigouin said Friday that “any racist behavior is unacceptable in hockey and in our society. It is very important to act immediately.”

In a French statement, Sigouin said it was “essential to protect the alleged victims by taking immediate action”.

“Kids will now see that something is going to happen. You can’t use words like that. You can’t discriminate against someone without having penalties,” Deselliers said.

Catherine J. Martinez