Hockey player speaks out after social media post about racism was suspended
On the ice, Keegan Mitchell considers himself a tough player who can score and defend his teammates. But it was when he walked away from the ice that he was suspended from the game he loves, perhaps for good.
During a Junior B game between the Sherwood Metros and the Kensington Vipers on December 17, Mitchell said an opposing player made an anti-Asian comment to one of his teammates. Mitchell was then suspended for two games for slashing this player with a stick – who received the same two-game penalty for his alleged comment.
In a Facebook post on Jan.5, Mitchell wrote that a two-game racial insult was not enough.
“I don’t think it’s inappropriate in any way,” Mitchell said of her social media post.
The next day, Mitchell received a letter from Hockey PEI telling him he was suspended indefinitely for violating league social media policy.
The letter said his post publicly criticized PEI Hockey officials and referred to a Kensington Vipers player, adding that they had been told the Vipers were looking for a lawyer.
All of this is not going well with Mitchell.
“It shows that Hockey PEI cares more about what my social media post said than the racist comments that were made,” said the 20-year-old.
Gordon McNeilly, the first black elected MP for Prince Edward Island, agrees. He sees the indefinite suspension as an unfair punishment.
“It sends the completely wrong message,” McNeilly said.
“You have to look outside of your statutes when dealing with issues of this magnitude. If there are status issues then they need to be changed. If there are any leadership issues then we kind of need to look at them and we need to get a better idea of what Hockey PEI is doing right now. “
CTV Atlantic reached out to Hockey PEI for comment on Sunday, but had not had a response at the time of this posting.
McNeilly said one of his next steps would be to bring the issue to the Prince Edward Island Legislature.
“This is a bad reflection on Prince Edward Island and I think we are all against racism,” McNeilly said.
Mitchell said he had received messages of support from across the country. He said if this ended up being the end of his junior hockey career, it wouldn’t be as he imagined.
“If it were to end on that note, I would be upset,” Mitchell said. “But I would know I’m going down for the right reasons. I’m fighting something that needs to be changed.”
For now, Mitchell is banned from all sanctioned activities of Hockey PEI.