Manitoba hockey player suspended for racist act

MANITOBA — A Manitoba hockey player has been suspended after a weekend game in which he appeared to make a racist gesture against a visiting Waywayseecappo First Nation team.

The incident happened as the horn sounded to end the match between the Dauphin Kings and the visiting Waywayseecappo Wolverines on Saturday, with the Kings winning 3-2.

A Dolphin player raised his stick and made what appeared to be a bow and arrow gesture. The player was identified as 20-year-old defenseman Klim Georgiev, who received a gross misconduct penalty, which is a minimum one-game suspension under Manitoba Junior Hockey League rules.

Video of the incident was shared on social media after it was uploaded by Hockey Indigenous, the well-known organization that aims to promote Indigenous participation in hockey at all levels.

On Tuesday, February 22, Hockey Indigenous released the following statement:

“Hockey Aboriginals understand that the culture and games of hockey can become very competitive and that talk and action can occur. That said, Indigenous Hockey does not take lightly what happened to the incident between the Waywayseecappo Wolverings and the Dauphin Kinds in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. We are aware and agree that the MJHL referees have committed serious misconduct against the Kings player and the league has suspended the Kings player immediately and after investigation. A friendly reminder, the game was played on First Nations land, to a First Nations team and on a First Nations player.

Our main goal was to raise awareness of the systemic racism that our people still experience on a daily basis. We do not in any way condemn hate or threats towards the player, the team and the league, but understand that acts of racism and racism are a very sensitive issue.

Hockey Indigenous then recommended in the statement that the MJHL implement comprehensive league-wide education incorporating Indigenous sensitivity training and resources for all players, officials, leaders, teams and league. He also suggested that every MJHL game and event be recognized that games are played on Treaty 1, 2, 4 and 5 lands while respecting that hockey is a space for everyone.

Bridgette Lacquette, from Dauphin, also took to social media to write on Twitter: “Allowing this type of behavior to continue is unacceptable. It is important to oppose it and tackle it. We can no longer sweep behavior like this under the rug. It doesn’t matter if it’s about ‘taking revenge on the other team’, it’s racist.”

Catherine J. Martinez