Gatineau minor hockey player denounces racist incidents

A youth from Gatineau, Quebec. minor hockey player speaks about several alleged incidents of racism and discrimination on the ice.

The disturbing circumstance has caused the teenager pain, but also empowerment as he hopes to prevent it from happening to others.

“Things like this shouldn’t belong in a sport, or in life in general,” said David Godwin, a 14-year-old hockey player.

Godwin says the incidents made him feel unworthy.

“I felt that I would not have my place there. I shouldn’t be playing this sport because of what they were saying,” he said, adding that he was speaking about what happened because it was the right thing to do.

“People called me the ‘n word’ and called me an African animal,” he said. “They were trying to get inside my head and trying to discriminate against me because of my color.”

He says the incidents involved a player from another team while he was playing minor hockey for Aylmer, Que.

“It’s a lot of pressure, but I want to talk to myself so the next person who has to go through this knows what to do,” he said.

Vicky Desellieres, David’s mother, says the first alleged incident happened in November when he was playing against a team from the Gatineau Minor Hockey Association.

“The second and third time I filed a written complaint,” she said. “The second time there was a kid on David’s team, another player, who overheard them calling David a ‘jackal’.”

She said it’s a French word for an African animal.

Although Desellieres would not publicly identify the team or player involved, she says she wrote an email to the coach and provided the information, but nothing was done.

“After complaining and nothing was done, even when he had a witness and nothing was done,” she said.

Desellieres said he got fed up with nothing happening so he controlled the player involved on the ice.

“I don’t think it was the right thing he did and he felt bad, but he was complaining and nothing was done,” she said. “No one hears the racist comments and in the end he looked like the bad guy that day.”

Desellieres said his son was suspended for testing and advised to leave the rink through the back door to avoid running into the player and his family after the game.

Both hockey associations say all players on both teams have been notified of the incident, but the person responsible has not been identified.

“We now have the names of the players who may have made this kind of comment and we will see these players again,” said Vincent Britt-Guy, president of the La Lièvre de Gatineau minor hockey association.

“For the player to be granted the five-game suspension for comments, you really have to identify who did it, but that’s not the case in this situation,” said Claudine Bourgeois of Hockey Outaouais.

Meanwhile, Hockey Quebec says it has requested a report on the events.

“Any discriminatory incident or comment that undermines a person’s integrity must be reported and denounced,” Hockey Quebec said in a statement. “Under no circumstances will such discriminatory acts or remarks be tolerated, whether on or off the ice. We invite anyone involved in or witness to such a situation to file a complaint.”

After talking about what happened, Godwin tries to refocus on his love for the game.

“I really like hockey. I train every day and it’s my favorite sport,” he said.

The 14-year-old hopes to one day play professionally and says he now realizes he deserves to be on the ice no matter what.

Catherine J. Martinez