London Morning9:03Hockey dad of three shares thoughts on Hockey Canada scandal
Parents say they’re disturbed by Hockey Canada’s handling of sexual assault allegations against elite players and politicians say the organization needs to do more to gain back the trust of thousands of hockey families.
“It’s very frustrating. Obviously, the story is pretty bad and trying to process that and talk to my own kids about it, it’s difficult,” said Dan Mellon, a hockey dad from Ottawa whose three kids, aged 18, 14, and 12, all play hockey. His oldest son played at a very high level, and the other two in house league.
“Hockey is very expensive. It’s big, big money, and I think it’s a big shock for people that the money they’ve been paying with every registration has been going to pay out the folks involved in this allegation. I think it’s going to be a while before people can trust again.”
Mellon’s own kids are out of competitive hockey, but many of the parents approached by CBC News said they didn’t want to speak because they feared their kids would be black-listed if their mom or dad spoke against Hockey Canada, the sport’s governing body.
“As stakeholders, all of the parents who pay registration fees every year need to speak up. Now is the time, but I understand that families of kids who play higher level hockey might be hesitant to speak out,” Mellon said. “I think if we don’t start to ask questions and we don’t start to speak up, nothing will ever change.”
It was revealed this week that Hockey Canada paid out $8.9 million in 21 sexual abuse settlements since 1989, money generated from Hockey Canada fees and investments.
‘Things are getting worse’
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage has been looking into 2018 sexual violence allegations in London, Ont., of the Canadian junior men’s hockey team.
“It seems like things are getting worse the more we dig into it,” said Kitchener-Conestoga MP Tim Louis, who sits on the committee.
“We trusted our children to these organizations and the testimony we heard shows that Hockey Canada really needs to do more as an organization to gain our trust back. These are policies and practices that allowed hazing, abuse, harassment, sexual harassment and bullying. Right now, I believe that trust in Hockey Canada has been lost.”
The system as a whole needs more accountability, Louis said. “I believe Hockey Canada needs to prove that they are worthy of the trust that they’re asking us to give them.”
Parents at the rink:
In London, Ont., at the Western Fair Sports Centre, parents watching their children play high-level hockey were unwilling to share their names when discussing the Hockey Canada scandal, for fear that their kids would face on-ice repercussions. Here’s what two parents said:
A mom: “It’s pretty disgusting. If I ever found out my son did something like that, I’d kill him myself. I think that Hockey Canada is protecting the elite, letting them get away with things just because they’re an elite athlete, and I wish that would change.”
A dad: “Hockey culture is an old boys club. I think it needs a new, fresh overhaul of newer people. It’s created an environment where they look out for each other and protect each other’s reputations. The money we pay for registration should never be used to try to fix other people’s mistakes and for settlements or lawsuits. That’s not the right thing to do.”