Hockey Canada releases plan to promote equity, diversity and inclusion

Hockey Canada releases plan to promote equity, diversity and inclusion
Hugh Fraser, Hockey Canada Board Chair, prepares the gold medals during the medal ceremony of the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship gold medal game in Halifax on Thursday, January 5, 2023.

Hockey Canada’s release of an inclusion report highlights the organization’s desire to show accountability for how it operates, its first vice-president of diversity and inclusion says.

An audit to address gaps in pay equity, a reworked recruitment strategy and ensuring Indigenous representation in event bids are among the deliverables in its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Path Forward report.

The organization said the report summarizes its efforts to change hockey’s ecosystem.

“It does highlight and reaffirm the commitment Hockey Canada has in advancing diversity and inclusion within Hockey Canada as an organization, and also within the member organizations,” Irfan Chaudhry said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “But I think what’s more important is when you have a document like this publicly out there, it does have some accountabilities connected to it too.”

Hockey Canada was called out for a lack of diversity in its nomination process for its board of directors last year as one of the findings of an independent governance probe.

In March, Hockey Canada hired Chaudhry, a human-rights advocate, as its first vice-president of diversity and inclusion.

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Chaudhry is the founder of Grow the Game, a hub for anti-racism resources for the hockey community. He added that the report is one of the first steps in changing the organization’s culture.

“I think just having that transparency around actions that have been taken in the last number of months to a year, I think does highlight that commitment to change,” he said.

The report has 45 actions with estimated timelines ranging from this year to 2025.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done,” said Chaudhry. “But that’s why individuals like myself and others have been brought in over the last number of months to two years.”

The section on working more closely with Indigenous groups and communities came from public feedback, Chaudry said, while others came as the organization looked to make changes to how it operated.

The independent probe was commissioned in response to intense criticism of Hockey Canada’s handling of sexual assault allegations involving members of its 2018 and 2003 world junior teams.

Since then, Hockey Canada has elected a new board of five women and four men, with retired judge Hugh L. Fraser nominated as board chair.

“We are committed to constantly listening and learning. We believe having varied perspectives helps generate better outcomes in a changing and increasingly diverse world,” the organization wrote in its report.

But the organization has struggled to retain sponsors in the wake of its scandals.

Canadian Tire said it would instead direct support “to hockey-related organizations that better align with our values.”

Tim Hortons, Telus and Scotiabank have all pulled men’s program funding for the upcoming season, but will continue to support women’s, para and grassroots programs.

Sports apparel giant Nike permanently ended its sponsor partnership with Hockey Canada in July.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 16, 2023.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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