5 P.E.I. minor hockey players suspended over racial slurs aimed at Black goalie from Halifax

A Hockey P.E.I. disciplinary committee has suspended five minor hockey players for 25 games for aiming racial slurs and taunts at a Black goalie from Nova Scotia during a tournament in Charlottetown.

“A lengthy suspension is required in order to reflect the seriousness of this type of conduct and to recognize the degrading nature of racial slurs,” said the report by the governing body’s discipline and ethics committee, which examined the case. 

“A racial slur attacks the very core of what it means to be recognized as a person.”

Because they are minors, Hockey P.E.I. is not identifying the players being penalized as a result of the incident. 

Mark Connors, a Black goalie from Nova Scotia, was subjected to repeated racist slurs and taunts at the Falcons Early Bird Tournament, which was held in Charlottetown from Nov. 18 to 21, 2021.

Connors, a goalie with the Halifax Hawks U18 AA team, said the N-word was directed at him during the first game he played.

“Some of the younger kids in the stands were calling me a racial slur. One guy said Halifax has a n—– for a goalie,” said Connors after the tournament. “In the third period they kept on talking, saying n—–, n—–, n—–.”

The Halifax player said some of his teammates and coaches heard the comments coming from the stands of Simmons Arena.

Hockey P.E.I. appointed a five-member committee to address the case, though two people recruited through a local BIPOC advocacy organization resigned before the process got fully underway.

In the report released Friday, the committee said that in addition to the suspension, the players “must complete an educational or learning experience to the satisfaction of the executive director of Hockey P.E.I.”

It went on to say that the education would have to go beyond a “general training session or online webinar, where the player is merely present” and ensure that the players are fully engaged with the process. 

After completing the training and suspensions, the players would be eligible to return to play. 

Players admitted ‘chirping’

The report notes that during the virtual hearing on the November incident, the players who were facing suspension and their parents denied Connors’s allegations, saying there was no proof racist remarks were uttered.

They did admit to “chirping” the player to agitate him, and one player told investigator Darrell Scribner that Connors had skated over to the group at one point and called them “racist f—s.” 

According to the report, Scribner said that part of the testimony “added validity to the statement from [Connors] that he heard racial slurs.” 

The report also noted that Connors had told his coach about the racial comments during the game, and the coach asked officials “to keep their eyes and ears open.” Five witnesses also spoke at the hearing to corroborate elements of the Nova Scotia player’s account.

Witnesses sought for hotel incident 

The report also addressed a separate incident that same weekend in the hotel where some players were staying. Connors reported facing more racist abuse from P.E.I. players, including that he shouldn’t play hockey because it’s “a white man’s sport.”

The committee said in its report that it had established a different group of hockey players were involved in that incident, and therefore it wouldn’t be addressed in this report. 

“The committee remains deeply concerned that players associated with Hockey P.E.I. appear to have been involved in the incident at the hotel,” said the report. “The committee recommends that the investigation into the incident at the hotel remain open.” 

The committee remains deeply concerned that players associated with Hockey P.E.I. appear to have been involved in the incident at the hotel.– Report

In a statement Friday, Hockey PEI asked for information from the public that “could assist with identifying those involved at the hotel.” 

In the same statement, Hockey PEI said during this period, it took the time to restructure the discipline and ethics committee’s mandate.

“Although we hope we do not receive similar allegations in the future, we are confident that with the new committee structure, we have ability to handle these matters,” the statement said. “Hockey PEI would like to thank the committee for the work on this issue.”

Lots of support

In the wake of the tournament,  officials with the Halifax Hawks organization said none of their teams would play in any hockey tournaments on the Island until Hockey P.E.I. dealt with the racist comments. 

Connors received support from near and far, including a phone call from P.E.I. Premier Dennis King.

NHL player P.K. Subban also posted his support for the teen on social media, writing: “When does it stop? Believe it or not these stories are sent to me everyday. “Hang in there, Mark! We got you.”

Back To Top