Sports Legault's all-white hockey committee draws criticism for diversity goals
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Racism drove Lali Toor from the game. Stamping it out brought him back. Now with a growing grassroots movement behind him, he finally feels like he belongs. © Provided by Hockey News on Sports Illustrated Photo Courtesy of Dampy Brar By Ambika Sharma On March 12, 2017, Lali Toor was in the stands of Rogers Place in Edmonton to watch his hometown Oilers take on the Montreal Canadiens. Most fans were fixated on Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. But for Toor, there was someone else who stuck out: Edmonton native Brendan Gallagher.
Some critics and advocates are calling out Premier François Legault for appointing a committee comprised entirely of white people to boost hockey development in the province, with a focus on accessibility and diversity.
On Thursday, Legault announced the, including former National Hockey League (NHL) players and women's hockey stars, will be charged with submitting recommendations on how to get more Quebecers into the NHL and increase the number of young people playing hockey.
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But former Montreal Canadiens enforcer Georges Laraque said the province missed the mark with the committee's make-up, which he said works against its goals.
"How could you be attracting minorities to come and play hockey if there's no representation of them in the group that's trying to do so?" Laraque asked.
"If there's no representation, it's not going to change anything."
Laraque said convincing more kids to play hockey won't be achieved through attracting more Quebecers — "Hockey is always going to be in their genes," he said — but rather through enticing new immigrants. He said newcomers are currently deterred from picking up the sport due to lack of representation and
Quebec premier announces plan to boost number of Quebecers in NHL
MONTREAL — Faced with declining interest in hockey among young people in Quebec, Premier François Legault on Thursday unveiled a strategy to increase the number of Quebecers in the National Hockey League — and to boost Quebecers' pride in their nation. Legault announced a new committee, led by former NHL player Marc Denis, to find out why there are fewer young Quebecers interested in hockey compared with past generations and why fewer Quebec-born players are reaching the sport's highest levels. "It's a committee of people who like hockey … who know hockey, who want hockey to do better in Quebec," Legault said.
"Hockey cannot survive if minorities don't get interested," he said.
Lack of Indigenous representation
Mike McKenzie, chief of the Innu nation of Uashat mak Mani-utenam, said he was surprised by the lack of Indigenous representation on the committee.
"If we're talking about changing the model, the way of viewing hockey in Quebec after a number of years, there is a new reform [the province] wants to work on, but First Nations are not included," he said.
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"We also have models. We have experts who played in the NHL and the Quebec junior league," McKenzie said, adding that he'd like to see at least one of these experts added to the committee.
Multiple Indigenous minor hockey league players have beenin recent years, which prompted Hockey Québec to update its code of ethics on specific language regarding discrimination.
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There are many things that should concern Quebec Premier Franç ois Legault. Numerous hospitals in the province have been forced to at least partially close their emergency departments. There is a severe shortage of nurses (and doctors) in Quebec. Many paramedics have quit over working conditions and their union was given a strike mandate on Thursday. Opioid abuse claimed the lives of 547 Quebecers last year. There is a rise in violent crime in Montreal. The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t going away. And, because this is all about me, I haven’t had a family doctor since mine retired in June.
At Thursday's announcement, Legault said interest in hockey is declining in the province and there are fewer people playing the game. The focus of his committee will include developing athletes and coaches, along with making the sport more accessible.
It will also address the development of women's hockey as well as attracting "a diverse and inclusive clientele."
The committee is expected to submit its recommendations to the minister responsible for sports, Isabelle Charest, by April 1, 2022.
'Have the right people at the table'
Moezine Hasham, founder and executive director of the Hockey 4 Youth foundation, said getting more people into the game starts with removing financial, gender and cultural barriers, which his group has been working to do for years.
The non-profit organization seeks to make the national sport accessible for everyone by getting rid of obstacles that discourage girls, those in low-income households, BIPOC youth and new Canadians from playing hockey.
"I'm not really sure if the composition of the committee and what they're studying is really going to hit the challenges that exist within hockey," said Hasham.
Hasham wants Legault's office to consult with and invest in grassroots organizations that are already trying to make the sport more accessible.
"Once you establish that connection with young people and show them that the game is for them, it makes it a lot easier to get them to step onto the ice for the first time," he said.
"If you're going to invest time and money into a committee that's going to work on accessibility in hockey, then have the right people at the table."
COVID updates, Dec. 3: Quebec will announce booster timeline for people 50+ next week, Dubé says .
Updated throughout the day on Friday, Dec. 3. Questions/comments: email@example.com Top updates Prior infection little defence against Omicron mutation, South Africa study says Will COVID-19 vaccines have to be updated for Omicron? Video: Is Quebec behind other provinces in rolling out third vaccine doses? Canada buying up to 1.5 million courses of oral antiviral drugs to fight COVID-19 Quebec will announce plan to offer boosters to people 50+ next week, Dubé says Give boosters to people 50+, health care workers, federal committee says Quebec reports 2 deaths, 1,355 new cases – most since April With holidays approaching, is Quebec set for a repeat of last year? Quebec