Beyond the Rink: Anti-Indigenous Discrimination Policy in Hockey

  • Author / Creator
    Saporito, Marina Giana Noce
  • The purpose of this research was to explore anti-Indigenous discrimination policies and procedures of local minor hockey leagues in central Alberta. Over the past two years, there has been multiple instances of anti-Indigenous discrimination at the hockey rink, which has led to several former and current professional hockey players speaking out about the discrimination that they encountered as Indigenous hockey players. This researched focused on five local minor hockey leagues in central Alberta: Sherwood Park Minor Hockey Association, Edmonton Minor Hockey Association, Strathcona Minor Hockey Association, St. Alberta Minor Hockey Association, and Spruce Grove Minor Hockey Association. Policies, procedures, and guiding documents from Hockey Canada and Hockey Alberta were also employed to determine the extent of the influence that provincial and national hockey organizations had on the local associations. Using patriarchal white sovereignty and patriarchal whiteness to analyze and evaluate the ways in which whiteness and patriarchy influenced the discourse of these policies and the procedures taken to address these incidents. This research produced three main findings. First, the discourse in the policies, along with the procedures to follow, all support the (re)production of inaction regarding anti-Indigenous discrimination in hockey. In particular, the codes of conduct often refer to “the game” and the ways in which people’s behaviours should “respect the game.” Second, none of the local associations, nor the provincial or federal organizations, specifically mention anti-Indigenous discrimination. The policies often acknowledge “race” and “gender” but do not acknowledge the genealogy and impact of race and gender on Indigenous hockey players. Thirdly, current procedures to investigate and discipline incidents of discrimination do not go far enough and the procedures for someone who yells at a referee are the same as someone who uses a discriminatory taunt. Many of the associations keep the decision-making over discipline and punishment limited to a select number of individuals. More specifically, this keeps the hierarchy and power limited to a specific segment of the sport. Furthermore, many of the disciplinary processes involve a non-refundable fee between $200.00-500.00, which is an unnecessary financial burden placed on players and their families to ensure appropriate steps are taken. Taken together cumulatively, the current policies and procedures (re)produce current power dynamics and hierarchies within hockey. The goal of this research was not to rewrite the policies themselves, but to highlight the gaps and the ways in which whiteness and patriarchy are (re)produced in the policies and procedures. As part of this, I am advocating for an improved policy-creation that prioritizes the inclusion of Indigenous players, leaders, and community members.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.