RED DEER – Providing a voice and learning about examples of racism and discrimination experienced in hockey are crucial responsibilities for a new Hockey Alberta task force.
Since its creation in October, Hockey Alberta’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Task Force has been working to understand the extent to which racism and lack of inclusion impacts hockey across the province.
“The challenge that most people have is they don’t have a voice, and we felt this committee needed to have a voice, to lend an ear to those individuals that were wanting to provide and share their stories,” said Anton Joseph, the chair of the task force.
Joseph, a business owner in Calgary with an extensive background in sports, is joined on the task force by an impressive group of people representing various races, gender orientations, sports, post-secondary education, and business.
Committee members include:
- Taryn Barry: former provincial level soccer player with playing experience in Europe, hockey player at University of Alberta, and currently working on her PhD at the University of Alberta.
- Sanjeev Bhagrath: an on-ice official for 25 years with Hockey Alberta, and founder of the Officials’ Diversity Committee in 2020.
- Devin Buffalo: former college and pro player, now enrolled in law school at the University of Alberta.
- Justin Connelly: on the board of directors with the Calgary Inclusive Hockey Association and currently works at Breakaway Sports Repair.
- Lauren Dormer: former U18AAA hockey player and current coach, currently working on her PhD at University of Alberta.
- Zahra Nurani: Senior Change Management Consultant, with two daughters currently playing hockey in Alberta.
- Claude Vilgrain: former NHL and Olympic hockey player, business owner, and current minor hockey coach.
- Darcy Smith: Coordinator, Member Development at Hockey Alberta, with 20 years of experience in the education system.
- Rob Litwinski: CEO of Hockey Alberta.
The focus for the task force is to review and build recommendations to address racism in hockey and make the sport more diverse and inclusive for all Albertans, as well as ensuring this is an ongoing, sustainable priority for Hockey Alberta through policies, standards and resources.
“Hockey Alberta was inspired by the work done by Hockey Nova Scotia and its Future of Hockey Lab as we set up this Task Force to help us address issues of equity, diversity and inclusion in our sport. I am grateful that we found a talented and knowledgeable group of Albertans who are committed to assisting Hockey Alberta establish a pathway to make our game better,” said Rob Litwinski, CEO of Hockey Alberta.
A key part of the process is understanding the experiences of former and current players of underrepresented groups and marginalized communities around lack of inclusion and racism in our sport; and the experiences of Albertans who have been reluctant to participate in hockey due to lack of inclusion and racism.
“In order to effect change, you have to be in a position to listen to the concerns that are out there,” Joseph said. “Until we sit down and listen to not only all the stakeholders within hockey, but the outside community as well, and their perception of the sport, we are hard pressed to put forth any change.”
The initial step in the listening process starts on Monday, March 7 with the publication of an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion survey by the task force. The survey will be distributed directly to current and past Hockey Alberta participants, as well as other groups across the province.
The Task Force is looking to better understand the perspectives of those currently in the game, those that may have left the game and those that were reluctant or unable to participate in the game due to a lack of inclusion. For anyone who does not receive a direct link to the survey, a link will be distributed via Hockey Alberta’s social media channels and will be available on the Hockey Alberta website.
To contact the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, email [email protected].