CBC has reported this very infuriating and unfortunate incident, which took place during the Coupe Challenge Quebec AAA, which was held from May 25 to 27 in Quebec City.
According to CBC, a team of First Nations hockey players say they were subjected to racist taunts and treated unfairly by referees at a recent spring hockey tournament. The First Nation Elites Bantam AAA team, made up of players aged 13 and 14, from several Cree, Atikamekw and Algonquin communities in Quebec, as well as from First Nations communities in Ontario and Nova Scotia, took part in the tournament and were victims of to racist taunts and slurs during games.
According to several parents, players and Elites manager Tommy H.J. Neeposh, players were called "savages" by at least one coach and a number of spectators.
"They were taunting our boys," said Neeposh, adding it was the worst he's ever experienced.
"[They] were doing Indian cries and the refs and coaches saw it."
It got worse as they were "also subjected to opposing players mimicking a stereotypical "war cry" on the ice, and players mocking the motion of a tomahawk as the First Nations players passed them near the dressing room off the ice."
The manager had enough and decided to film part of the incident during a semi-final contest. The head referee called unfair penalties against the Elites and you can hear the taunting as four First Nation Elites players are sitting in the penalty box.
Towards the end of the video, a spectator can be heard saying, "gang de sauvages", which says "gang of savages", translated from French.
14-year-old player Julien Marshall, 14, recalled that the slurs and taunting starting during the first game of the tournament as the opposing team started imitating a "war cry" by making a sound while hitting their mouths with their hands after the First Nation Elites won the contest by a score of 2-1.
"I actually went really calmly and politely to one of the linesman," said Marshall. "I said, 'Are you seeing this? That is racist … this is wrong.'"
However, Marshall claimed the referee did nothing and sent him back to the blue line as if he "was in the wrong."
"The whole team was doing that in front of our faces."
"I was thinking, 'Does this still exist. Are we in the '80s or '90s?'" said Christina Gull, mother of a 14-year-old player. "They called us savages. One parent was saying, 'Go home.'"
The Coupe Challenge Quebec AAA isn't overseen by Hockey Quebec and the hosts, the Bulldogs de Quebec, a AAA team in Quebec City, claim nothing can be done on what players said on the ice.
After the tournament, it was revealed that Neeposh filed a complaint about the referee and at least one coach with the organizer of the tournament. Neeposh said one assistant coach did apologize to the Elites, and Christina Gull said one of the spectators also apologized to her.
Let's make sure this never happens in the first place. Hockey is for everyone!