Media

Podcast with Sheldon Kennedy – Beyond the Checkbox

Podcast with Sheldon Kennedy – Beyond the Checkbox

This podcast features a powerful conversation between Dr. Ryan Todd and Sheldon Kennedy. Thank you to Headversity for this great opportunity! Click here to watch it:

“Sheldon Kennedy is a former NHL player and has led numerous initiatives that have advocated for children and victims of abuse. Most recently he’s founded the Respect Group, which has certified over 1.3 Million people in workplaces across Canada in bullying, harassment, and discrimination training. On this episode, Sheldon shares his remarkable story as an abuse victim and how these experiences have shaped his life, including the revelation where he discovered he was responsible for his mental health.” -Dr. Ryan Todd

2020 Sport for life Canadian Summit – Stories Of Success Panel

2020 Sport for life Canadian Summit – Stories Of Success Panel

Creating Belonging through Considering Intersectionality

Written by Andrea Carey, CCIP and Founder of INclusion INcorporated

We want to begin by acknowledging the generosity of the three panelists who shared their stories to
spark this discussion – Joy Spearchief-Morris, Cindy Ouellet, and Zoe Robinson. We also want to pay
tribute to the Re-Creation Collective who is a group of academics and practitioners who are reimagining
sport from the margins. Thank you to Respect Group Inc. for their generous support of this session and
their commitment to creating safe spaces.

Intersectionality has become a term used often in the diversity and inclusion space. It is often used in a
way to articulate the overlapping facets of diversity – which is part of the story, but there are a variety of
opportunities to appreciate the power of the term that was first coined by Black feminist Kimberlé
Crenshaw.

Intersectionality is defined as the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and
gender as they apply to a given individual or group, creating overlapping and interdependent systems of
discrimination or disadvantage. They do not exist separately from each other but are interwoven and
linked together. It is meant to articulate the overlapping systems of oppression that are faced by those
who are in marginalized positions – either by social determinants of health, geography or facets of their
identities.

I recently had the opportunity to showcase a panel of incredible women who have diverse intersections
in how they identify. A Paralympian in winter and summer sport who is a PhD candidate, a
businesswoman and gay. A Black Indigenous Master’s degree student who is a high-performance
athletics athlete aiming for a spot in this summer’s Olympics. A trans woman who is a former CEO of a
National Sport Organization and is navigating the world as a woman after 54 years living as a man.
This group of strong, successful women joined me to share their stories of success and to share what
they need to find success in new situations. The theme was to create people and participant-centered
approaches. We focused on how to support people to have positive experiences in the spaces and
places where they are.

We offered up six principles of creating success in participant/people-centered approaches and we
solicited input from the audience to share how they would live these in their organization. Here is what
the group of over 400 sport, recreation, education and health leaders came up with:
Inclusion would be lived by always having a growth mindset. We agreed that inclusion starts with the
people you are trying to serve, so there must be a focus on hiring the community you serve.
Organizations should be open to policy development and implementation.
Respect would be lived by understanding that everyone is on a unique journey and embedding in the
team culture for all to follow. Respect should be included as one of the organization’s values. Every
human being deserves to be respected.

Right to Privacy would be lived by asking permission to share (opt-in or opt-out) and provide options for
level of sharing (what are you sharing), to who and how. This should not be in the small print! There
should be options to limit information on the website for registration to keep it protected.

Private information of members shouldn’t be shared when communicating with other departments of Regions/PSO/NSO.

Dignity would be lived by meeting the participants at the place they are at so they can engage in
different ways and levels, and by being the example and treating everyone equally with respect. Anyone
should be able to do the sport they want even if they have obstacles, and a clear and transparent
selection criteria and appeal processes need to be in place.

Openness would be lived by sharing our cultural experiences often at the office, including the
community in the process for designing, implementing and evaluating sports programs by giving them a
seat at the table.

Allyship would be lived by identifying ability, compassion, and heart by advocating and providing
support. We agreed to wait until you are invited in, and not to make promises. When it comes time to
act, don’t say you’ll do it, say when you’ll do it. We should create working groups and support
spokespersons from marginalized groups.

Compassion would be lived by leading by example.

Safe would be lived by applying for funding to create a safer physical space (ex. changerooms) in
infrastructure where all participants/officials/staff feel supported, welcomed and safe. Training should
be provided to key influencers, coaches, boards, volunteers and parents open conversations should be
hosted that set the tone that respect is expected. It’s important to co-create norms and expectations
that will be commonly understood by the entire group, and to train athletes, coaches, volunteers,
administrators; developing awareness within your sectors. Through opportunities to share our stories,
and to examine the different needs of the people in the spaces and places so that we can better plan to
support the many diverse people who will be part of our programs or who deserve to be included but
haven’t been planned for properly yet.

The opportunity of this dialogue to look at how leaders of the sport, recreation, health and education
organizations in Canada can be intentional about planning for the people, the participants who are at
the core of what we do in delivering sport and physical activity experiences. We can consider how these
eight principles could come to life in your organization, and to build that into how you operate going
forward.

Sheldon Kennedy statement on receiving the Order of Hockey In Canada 2020

Sheldon Kennedy statement on receiving the Order of Hockey In Canada 2020

“Upon reflection of receiving the Order of Hockey in Canada, I sincerely feel that this award represents far more than just “Sheldon” accomplishments. This recognition, is clearly for an amazing Team Effort.

First off, my good friend of 23 years and business partner, Wayne McNeil, deserves as much credit as I do for sharing, and delivering on, our common vision. For the 10’s of thousands of disclosure letters I have received since 1997, after my story broke, my gratitude to each of you for baring your souls and for your courage. Your words reminded me that this is not an isolated issue and kept me going!

Thank you to Hockey Canada for your leadership in making Speak Out mandatory in 1997 for all coaches. In my mind, a bold step and the REAL beginning of the Safe Sport Movement in Canada, and, perhaps the world! And to all of the proactive sport leaders who have taken their own bold steps to make RESPECT education a requirement. You have created a sport environment that values child protection as priority one. Not a button or a poster, but the real deal. Of course, there is more to be done and there always will be.

But let’s pause for a moment, accept this award together, and commit to continuing this unique collaboration to keep Canadian kids safe and respected while they enjoy the wonderment of sport!”

SHELDON KENNEDY

Respect Group/Workplace Fairness Institute Action Summit 2020

Respect Group/Workplace Fairness Institute Action Summit 2020

The Action Summit 2020 was a success! 

We had some great conversations exploring the intersection of Psychological Health & Safety and Civility & Respect!

Thanks to our moderator Blaine Donais and experts Dr. Pat Ferris, Cam Mitchell and Wayne McNeil. 

Thanks to all of our brilliant speakers.

Thank you to The GRAND for hosting our Action Summit.

And most of all, we want to thank everyone who participated to the event and made it a success! 

 

Respect Group/Workplace Fairness Institute Action Summit

Respect Group/Workplace Fairness Institute Action Summit

Is your organization at a loss as how to address psychological health and safety or challenged with Alberta’s new Occupation Health and Safety code?  We are bringing support.  Join us for the day to get insight into this complex issue and take away real tools you can immediately apply in your workplace.

Our upcoming Action Summit will examine the intersection of Psychological Health and Safety and Civility & Respect.  You won’t want to miss it so join us on January 29th, 2020.

Attention HR professionals: Earn 6 CPD Hours by attending the Action Summit!

Get Your Tickets HERE

Summit Developers

The Workplace Fairness Institute and Respect Group

 

As partners, the Workplace Fairness Institute and Workplace Fairness West believe that psychological health and safety is AS important as physical health and safety.  That is why we support organizations across Canada to create working environments in which employees can thrive. Whether that’s promoting civility and respect, addressing bullying/harassment, managing conflict, training employees, or coaching leaders we have the expertise and knowledge to partner with businesses to create strong and healthy employees.  When employees thrive, businesses succeed.

That’s also why we work closely with Respect Group and agreed to step up in Alberta to provide a learning opportunity for organizations and employees to address issues focused on psychological health and safety and civility and respect.

Who Should Attend?

Sessions will benefit:

  • Senior HR Professionals
  • Senior Occupational Health and Safety Professionals
  • Union Representatives
  • Municipalities
  • Business Leaders
  • Educational Institutions
  • Non profits

Why Should I Attend?

By attending you will:

  • Understand what your duty is as an employer to address the OHS issues and their impact on psychological health and safety.
  • Walk away with a road map of what your organization needs to do to create or improve upon a psychologically healthy workplace
  • Receive compliance and risk reduction ideas and solutions that can be easily implemented within your organization.
  • Be able to build a business case, determine your organizations return on investment and successfully position the importance and value within your organization
  • Hear from other leading organizations as they share their experiences regarding challenges and successes in creating psychologically healthy workplaces.

 

What’s my Investment?

Your investment will provide on-going value for yourself and your organization.  Ticket prices are deliberately kept low to ensure that we are able to support all participants.

 

Sales are limited so act soon!

Regular – $199

Group Rate – 35% off regular price for groups of 4 or more

 

Purchase your tickets HERE

 

Where will the learning happen?

Join us in Calgary, Alberta on January 29, 2020 at the historic Grand Theater.  An appropriate setting to engage participants to be creative, join in the facilitated discussions of the day and experience new learning.

608 1st St. SW    Calgary Alberta

Conveniently located just off the C-Train Line
Available Parking – James Short Parkade 115 4th Ave SW, Indigo Parkade at Centre Street – North of 7th Ave SW

What does the Day Look Like?

For Detailed Session Information click here.

8:30-9:00 Registration

9:00-9:15 Intro & Opening Remarks – Sheldon Kennedy – The Human Cost of Psychological Health and Safety

9:15-10:15 Fireside Chat – Psychological Health and Safety – Where are we now? 

10:15-10:30 Networking Break

10:30-12:00 Morning Breakout Sessions

  1. How can we position our people and organization’s culture to always place RESPECT first in everything we do?
  2. Developing a Roadmap to Create a Psychological Safe Workplace

12:00-1:00 Lunch

1:00-2:15  ROI and Building the Business Case – Sharing Resources

2:15-2:30 Networking Break

2:30-3:45 Afternoon Breakout Sessions – Sharing the Journey to Psychological Health & Safety

  • Non-Profit: Calgary Drop-In Centre
  • Municipality: City of Lethbridge
  • Union: TBD

3:45-4:00 Wrap-up

4:00-5:00 Join us in the Mezzanine for networking after conference

 

Who will be joining us?

For Speaker Bio’s click here.

Sheldon Kennedy – Internationally known Abuse Prevention Advocate

Dr. Pat Ferris – International Bullying/Harassment Expert, researcher and social worker focused on the treatment of bullying/harassment targets

Wayne McNeil – – Co-founder Respect Group and Canadian Red Cross Caring Award Recipient

Cameron Mitchell – President Kasa Consulting , Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) representative, Canadian Registered Safety Professional (CRSP) and certified COR auditor

Blaine Donais – Present and Founder of the Workplace Fairness Institute, workplace conflict management specialist and author of Workplaces that Work, Engaging Unionized Employees and The Art & Science of Workplace Mediation.

Brad Blaisdell – Western Regional Director of the Respect in the Workplace Program at Respect Group

Danica Kelly – Eastern Regional Director of the Respect in the Workplace Program at Respect Group

Michelle Phaneuf – Partner Workplace Fairness West, certified Psychological Health and Safety Adviser and experienced workplace restoration expert.

Sandra Clarkson – Executive Director of the Calgary Drop-In Centre

Barb Neckich – Senior Human Resources Consultant, City of Lethbridge

Elite Vancouver private school failed to stop student bullying, says B.C. Supreme Court claim

Elite Vancouver private school failed to stop student bullying, says B.C. Supreme Court claim

Former Crofton House student became suicidal, parents allege, after incessant bullying from other students

Vancouver restaurateurs Natalie and Uwe Boll have filed a civil claim against an exclusive private girls schools alleging the bullying their 13-year-old daughter endured at Crofton House drove her to develop suicidal and self harming behaviour.

Natalie Boll told CBC News her daughter is no longer at the school.

“She went from this little girl who loves Harry Potter and who’s kind of quirky to absolutely broken and lost,” said Boll.

In a statement, Ena Harrop, head of Crofton House, said the school “does not agree with the characterizations of the events as portrayed in the lawsuit and will provide a robust legal defence of the allegations.”

Natalie Boll, whose daughter attended Crofton House School, is pictured at her home in Vancouver, British Columbia on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The documents filed in B.C. Supreme Court allege a student at the school — identified as the “Crofton Student” — started making disparaging and racist remarks to the daughter when the girls were both in Grade 6, telling her things like she should get plastic surgery to look more white.

According to the claim, the Crofton Student had gained direct admission to the school without having to undergo entrance interviews. She often bragged that her mother was friends with the school’s board of directors and attended exclusive donor events reserved for “rich” families.

‘Malicious gossip, racist remarks’

The claim says the Crofton Student’s bullying escalated the next school year with the spreading of malicious gossip about the daughter, to the point that “a great proportion of the Grade 7 class became involved in propagating disparaging rumours…”

“In addition to racist remarks about [the daughter’s] mixed race heritage, Crofton House students spread homophobic rumours and hateful gossip about [her] sexuality,” reads the claim. “Crofton House did not intervene sufficiently, or at all, to cease the spiraling racism, bullying and homophobia…”

Crofton House School in Vancouver, British Columbia on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

According the claim, Natalie Boll approached the school a number of times to express concern about her daughter’s treatment. On one occasion, a director allegedly said that her daughter was socially awkward and was, herself, to blame for the bullying and alienation she was experiencing at Crofton House.

In January 2019, abusive social media posts against the daughter began escalating with messages like “everyone at Crofton hates you,” “kill yourself” and “drink bleach,” according to the claim.

Some of the messages were sent on the app Tellonym, which was linked to the girl’s Instagram account. Tellonym is free to download and allows people to send anonymous messages to and about other people.

Natalie Boll, whose daughter attended Crofton House school, is pictured at her home in Vancouver, British Columbia on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The claim says when the daughter started Grade 8 in September 2019, “the bullying continued frequently and unabated …  [The daughter] was being jeered at and called a ‘skid’ and a ‘lesbian,’ as she walked down the hallways.”

A Crofton adviser suggested that the daughter join extracurricular groups such as the debate club to fit in, according to the claim.

Xanax overdose

Around Sept. 30, 2019, an older student gave the daughter Xanax, advising it would help her not care about the bullying. The daughter passed out at school and was taken to UBC emergency where doctors administered Narcan. While there, previously undiscovered cut marks were found on her arms from where she had been cutting herself, according to the claim.

The daughter was put on suicide watch and sent to Children’s Hospital where a doctor advised that she not return to Crofton House.

The claim says that Crofton House “incubated an environment in which homophobia, racism, harassment, bullying and the recruitment of others to bully was commonplace.”

It says the school was negligent in maintaining sufficient student safety, “… resulting in the endangerment of [the daughter’s] life.”

None of the allegations have been tested in court.

Mother petitions against anonymous apps

Last week and completely separate from the lawsuit, Natalie Boll started an online petition calling for the banning of anonymous apps Tellonym and YOLO.

Some of the social media messages the daughter allegedly received. (submitted to CBC)

She said her daughter was bullied and harassed over both platforms and believes the apps are a breeding ground for hate and encouraging self harm and suicide.

Both are free to download from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Sarahah, a hugely popular social media app that allows anonymous messaging, was dropped by Apple and Google after an Australian mother started a petition against it, alleging it facilitated cyberbullying and self harm.

It’s Well Past Time the NHL Fixed a Culture That Allows Coaching Abuses of Power With Little Consequence

It’s Well Past Time the NHL Fixed a Culture That Allows Coaching Abuses of Power With Little Consequence

Source: Sports Illustrated:MICHAEL ROSENBERG

 

The NHL has a problem, and it’s not just that Bill Peters used the n-word with an African-born player, or that Mike Babcock apparently accosted a player to the point of a nervous breakdown, or that Marc Crawford has been accused of assaulting at least three players. It’s that they thought they could get away with all that—and for a long time, they did.

Hockey’s culture, endearing in so many ways, has some real shortfalls. For decades, coaches’ ideal player had soft hands, fast feet, a powerful shot and no vocal cords. Players are told to fall in line early and almost always do. No matter how much money they make or how famous they are, players just seem to want to play hockey. It’s charming. But coaches know they can take advantage, and teams become autocracies.

“What you hear is, ‘All those hockey guys are such nice guys, they’re so nice to work with,’” former NHL forward Sheldon Kennedy said. “You hear that all the time. And the players are good, most of the coaches are good people. [But] it’s not a player-empowered league. It is very authoritative, dominant. Even the star players in hockey don’t really have a voice … the big stars don’t speak up like they do in other leagues.”

Kennedy only played 310 games in the NHL, but he understands the sport’s cultural problem as well as anybody. In the 1990s, he publicly accused his junior-league coach Graham James of sexual abuse. James was convicted. For the last 16 years, Kennedy’s company the Respect Group has trained 1.3 million people in workplace and sporting conduct.

 

Kennedy is clear: “It’s not just a hockey issue.” But hockey is especially vulnerable. From the moment teen stars leave home to play junior hockey, they are told, “Make sure you listen to your coach.” The idea that authority figures know better than they do is instilled early and often. You can draw a line from Players’ Association head Alan Eagleson defrauding players to the current crisis.

The coaches in the news lately are not just any coaches. Babcock won the Stanley Cup once, nearly won it two other times, then signed the richest coaching contract in NHL history, with the league’s flagship team. Former Red Wing Johan Franzen, who has a history of concussions and depression, says Babcock verbally assaulted him to the point where he didn’t want to go to the rink.

Crawford also won the Cup. He has been accused of kicking and choking players.

Peters used the n-word in anger toward player Akim Aliu a decade ago, when Aliu played for Peters with the AHL’s Rockford Icehogs. Peters says he apologized in front of the entire team —which, if true, would mean the whole team knew about it. Yet Peters got two NHL coaching jobs after that.

Imagine seeing these kinds of headlines about Steve Kerr. Or Sean McVay. Or Joe Maddon.

The NHL can change, but only if commissioner Gary Bettman wants it to change—and early indications are that he does. He met with Aliu, who said they had “a great discussion.” And last week, NHL executive vice president Kim Davis reached out to Kennedy. They are supposed to talk this week.

 

Davis should ask Kennedy the same question I asked him:

When it comes to educating people about these issues, does the NHL trail youth hockey?

Kennedy’s response: “Absolutely.”

It is a strange phenomenon. In most sports, players have the most power when they are professionals. But hockey still clings to the archetype of the domineering coach. Most players fear losing ice time or getting sent down to the minors, and established stars don’t want to look like divas. You can see where players who want to speak up often feel trapped.

The Respect Group’s Respect in Sport Activity Leader Program, is mandatory for all coaches by Hockey Canada and all host families in the Canadian Hockey Legaue. More than 300,000 people have been certified. Hockey Canada requires one parent or care-giver of every youth player to complete the Respect in Sport Parent Program. Yet Kennedy says, “I’ve done nothing, ever with the NHL.”

Maybe Davis and Bettman will change that. This is not just about the coaches who have been named. Professional environments should have certain standards. Somebody has to implement them.

“They just need to get on board,” Kennedy said. “They need to support the good work that is happening in grassroots hockey … the sexual-abuse stuff has made the headlines for all these years. But the reality is, we’ve known the emotional and physical abuse and verbal abuse doesn’t make the headlines, but it’s probably more prevalent.”

 

Bettman is meeting with the league’s Board of Governors this week. He has declined to talk until after that meeting. He and the board should realize they have two options here. They can worry about damage control, or they can root out the problem and start fixing it. Kennedy says, “What I know about this stuff is when we have good leadership within an organization, or a team, this stuff doesn’t happen.” That applies to leagues, too.

Supporting safe and respectful learning

Supporting safe and respectful learning

Photo: Minister LaGrange, Sheldon Kennedy, trustees, student leaders and staff from Eastview Middle School. | La ministre de l’Éducation, Adriana LaGrange; Sheldon Kennedy; des conseillers scolaires de Red Deer Public; des leadeurs étudiants; et du personnel de l’école primaire Eastview Middle School à Red Deer.

 

 

 

Government is providing a grant of $300,000 per year over four years to support the Respect in School program, which educates school system employees on their responsibilities to ensure students are safe from abusive situations.

“All students deserve a positive and caring learning environment. With this grant, we are following through on our commitment to support safe schools that protect students against discrimination and bullying. I encourage all school leaders and staff to complete the Respect in School training for the benefit of our children.”

Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education

The Respect in School online training, offered in English and French, will educate teachers and other school staff, bus drivers, parent volunteers and student leaders about how they can prevent bullying, harassment and discrimination in their schools.

“We are proud to stand alongside Alberta Education who, through their leadership, is making the safety and well-being of our kids their top priority. Respect in School will give school leaders the confidence to step up and step in when situations arise and help create safe and respectful learning environments for all students.”

Sheldon Kennedy, co-founder, Respect Group Inc.

Through its online training programs, Respect Group Inc. has certified more than 1.2 million people across Canada to recognize and prevent bullying, harassment and discrimination.

“As a district we recognized increasing concerns for mental health and wellness. As we developed our Valuing Mental Health initiative, one of the key elements for prevention and promotion was the district-wide implementation of Respect in School. Each of our staff members goes through the training to recognize and prevent bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination. By educating our school staff on the prevention of these issues, we build a culture of respect across our school community.”

Nicole Buchanan, chair, Red Deer Public Schools

Albertans dealing with bullying or other issues that may be affecting their mental health can access supports 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including the Mental Health Helpline (toll-free at 1-877-303-2642), the Bullying Helpline (toll-free at 1-888-456-2323), Bullying Helpline Chat, and Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868).

Calls for diversity, inclusion in sports amplified following Peters allegations

Calls for diversity, inclusion in sports amplified following Peters allegations

SOURCE: Calgary Herald:

SAMMY HUDES

 

As the Calgary Flames investigate allegations of racism and physical force by head coach Bill Peters toward former players, some say changes are desperately needed in order to foster a more inclusive environment in hockey from the grassroots to professional levels.

The allegations began surfacing Monday when former Flames forward Akim Aliu wrote on social media that Peters “dropped the N bomb several times towards me in the dressing room” while both were in the minors during the 2009-10 season.

Former Carolina Hurricanes player Michal Jordan later alleged that Peters kicked him and punched another player “to the head” during a game. Peters coached the Hurricanes prior to joining the Flames.

The allegations of racial slurs came as no surprise to Cecil Harris, who in 2003 wrote a book on racism in the sport titled, “Breaking the Ice: The Black Experience in Professional Hockey.”

“Only the names have changed, unfortunately, because the same racial intolerance exists,” said Harris, who is based in New York.

Throughout his research, he said he spoke to many black players who described having “buried” racist experiences in order to advance their hockey careers, including former Flames captain Jarome Iginla.

“Iginla shared a story with me. It’s something that happened when he was 15 years old. He was chased by some people and racial slurs were uttered,” said Harris, adding Aliu was “right in believing that he would have been blamed” had he come forward with his allegations against Peters sooner.

“The onus would be put on him and he would be attacked and he wouldn’t be able to progress in the sport.”

In Canada, more than 50 sport organizations across the country have partnered with the Respect Group, which strives to prevent bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination in sports.

Co-founder Wayne McNeil said games like hockey are changing as new Canadians continue to fuel population growth across Canada.

“Have they been slow? Maybe we’ve all been slow across all sports to really come up with the best approach to getting new Canadians involved,” he said.

“We need to come up with the right messaging and scheduling and levels of play that are going to make it really exciting for new Canadians to be part of it.”

McNeil said the group tries to prepare coaches with the tools needed to handle their behaviour, especially in high-emotion circumstances.

“The emotional levels that people feel — be it coaches, be it parents — in a sport, they get elevated to a level that you don’t typically see in a workplace, or that you even encounter when you’re in a school environment,” he said.

“You look at a lot of the things that happen. They’re quick responses to high emotional moments often followed by apologies because people realize ‘oh my god, I don’t typically act like that.’”

He said coaches need to “understand their legal and moral duty of care,” while remembering that their goal is to build self-esteem in participants.

In a statement, the Coaching Association of Canada said “inclusion must be a foundational pillar of our sport system” and that it continues to educate coaches, administrators, and volunteers on the most “constructive ways to build inclusive and respectful sport experiences.”

Andrea Carey, director of operations and special projects with Sport for Life, said issues surrounding diversity and inclusion at the grassroots level are “rapidly changing right now.”

Carey said the organization trains those in the sporting community to create inclusive environments, with a focus on creating opportunities for Indigenous people and newcomers, people with disabilities, women and girls.

Akim Aliu skates with the Calgary Flames during his time with the team in April 2012. LORRAINE HJALTE / CALGARY HERALD

She said there’s still a huge gap in terms of staff, volunteers, parents and players being fully prepared to ensure a welcoming culture at all times.

“In many cases, they don’t know what they don’t know. They might think they know about, let’s say racism. They think they know what issues are around racism,” said Carey.

“But if you dive deeper, often they really don’t know because they maybe haven’t had the opportunity to work with someone with lived experience that can share that story and bring those topics to light.”

That still needs to be tackled from the top-down, according to Harris, who noted that while “outstanding players” of colour like Iginla or Edmonton Oilers great Grant Fuhr found acceptance at hockey’s highest level, “marginal” players have a harder time than white athletes of the same calibre.

He said more diversity is needed among hockey’s most influential decision-makers.

“It’s business as usual if the overwhelming majority of coaches, assistant coaches and general managers are white. I think the black player who is subjected to racial slurs will be told ‘just forget about.’ They cut deep if those words are uttered to you,” he said.

“If there was more diversity and inclusion … I think that would send a strong message to all players: respect everybody regardless of their background, get racism out of the sport. It doesn’t belong here. It’s vile.”

shudes@postmedia.com
Twitter: @SammyHudes

Canadian universities failing to protect athletes from abusive coaches, students say

Canadian universities failing to protect athletes from abusive coaches, students say

SOURCE:

Laura Kane – The Canadian Press

By

The Canadian Press

 –

VANCOUVER — Meredith Goldhawk has loved hockey since she was four.

But she says since a coach at the University of Windsor harassed and bullied her, she can’t even bring herself to play a pickup game with friends.

“Some days I will just sit down and cry because she took so much away from me,” says the 22-year-old.

The athlete is among several across Canada who say universities are failing to protect players from abuse. Students in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia all say their schools mishandled serious complaints against coaches in recent years.

Their fight is part of a movement to end so-called “old-school” coaching techniques that experts say are abusive. But change is slow, they say, because coaches hold so much power over players and some mistakenly believe military-style training is key to winning.

Six hockey players, including Goldhawk, complained to the University of Windsor about coach Deanna Iwanicka in February. The athletes allege she humiliated them in front of others, belittled them with expletive-laden insults and kicked out some without cause.

The university hired an investigator but refused to provide the final report to complainants, instead sending a four-page summary that didn’t address all the allegations, say Goldhawk and fellow complainant Reagan Kaufman.

The summary says the investigator found the allegations were unsubstantiated. For the most part, Iwanicka was “direct, clear and professional,” though it was “inappropriate and disrespectful” to tell Goldhawk and Kaufman they were being cut by phone, it says.

“It’s definitely not right,” says Kaufman. “If they had been there for everything we went through, she definitely wouldn’t still be coaching.”

The school says it can’t comment on personnel matters and Iwanicka, who is still head coach of the women’s team, didn’t respond to calls and emails requesting comment.

Margery Holman, a retired kinesiology professor who helped the University of Windsor players file their complaints, says post-secondary institutions lack courage.

“Often it’s a ‘he said, she said’ and we lean in the direction of the person in power because they have more at stake,” she says. “We’re not going to fire a coach, no matter the preponderance of evidence, if we can’t prove it.”

She adds coaches have unique power over athletes’ futures, determining whether a player is a starter or a bench warmer and influencing scholarships and other opportunities.

At the University of Lethbridge, an investigator found in July 2018 that women’s hockey coach Michelle Janus had violated its harassment policy. The school required her to undergo counselling and additional training and it also started developing a coaches’ code of conduct.

But the six players who had filed complaints had called for Janus to be fired or suspended. In August 2018, four of the complainants launched a lawsuit against the university, Janus and athletics director Ken McInnes seeking more than $1 million in damages.

The lawsuit alleges Janus bullied players, insulted them as “pathetic” and “useless” while using expletives, threw water bottles, broke equipment, punched doors and participated in a “fine jar” that charged fees to players for their sexual history or personal lives.

It also accuses Janus and McInnes of requiring players to vote on whether to allow a teammate who had attempted suicide to return to the team.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. The university, Janus and McInnes deny all the allegations in a joint statement of defence and say the lawsuit should be struck as it is “scandalous, frivolous and vexatious.”

Janus left her position at the university in January.

Complainants Alannah Jensen, Brittney Sawyer and Chelsea Kasprick all say they’re still suffering psychological and emotional impacts. Kasprick alleges Janus forced her to play five weeks after shoulder surgery, potentially causing permanent damage.

“I put so much on the line for this coach who had all the power and control and abused me and secluded me and isolated me from all my teammates,” Kasprick says.

Janus, the university and a lawyer representing the defendants declined comment as the matter is before the court. McInnes did not reply to a request for comment.

Last week, the University of Victoria wrapped an appeal process after three athletes and an assistant coach filed complaints accusing women’s rowing coach Barney Williams of verbal abuse and harassment.

The three rowers say the university threatened them with disciplinary action if they speak about the results of the investigation.

Lily Copeland is one of the complainants and has alleged Williams criticized her weight and appearance and yelled at her in a small, locked room.

Williams has said respects the confidentiality of the university probe and couldn’t provide a detailed response until it wrapped up. He didn’t respond to requests for comment after the investigation concluded.

He says he regards coaching as a privilege, and he encourages athletes to become their best version of themselves. Other athletes on the team credit Williams with their success.

The university has said privacy legislation and its own confidentiality policies apply to all investigations.

Jennifer Walinga, a Royal Roads University professor and Commonwealth Games gold medallist in rowing, says her research has shown that humiliating or neglecting athletes typically leads to worse performances.

“You can still win and be broken,” she notes. “But you can achieve greater heights, win more gold medals and for longer periods of time with a values-based approach to coaching.”

That approach includes supporting athletes’ mental health as well as their physical health, Walinga explains.

But she says the coaching style that is similar to combat training, involving hurling insults and swearing at athletes, still exists because our society tends to glorify people who can endure abuse.

“In society, it’s a naivete or an ignorance about what sport actually involves,” she says. “Sport is not war. It’s not a battle at all.”

There is a growing campaign to rid Canadian sports of abuse and harassment.

More than 700 national-team athletes responded to a survey by the group AthletesCan about mistreatment. Seventeen per cent reported psychological injuries, 15 per cent experienced neglect and four per cent suffered sexual harm.

The federal government has brought in a series of initiatives, including establishing new policy for national sports organizations, funding the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre to create an investigation unit and setting up a toll-free confidential tip line.

It’s crucial to encourage young people to remain enrolled in sports, says Carolyn Trono, a director with the non-profit group Sport for Life Society.

“If the place that you are going to voluntarily isn’t positive, why would you stay?”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2019.

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