An Open Letter to Canadians
Hockey Canada understands that trust is earned, not given. For decades, we have worked to earn your trust. You have rewarded us for those efforts by allowing us to provide positive hockey experiences to generations of young Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
We have heard from Canadians, players, their families, fans, sponsors and those impacted by what occurred in 2018. We know you are angry and disappointed in Hockey Canada – rightfully so.
We know we have not done enough to address the actions of some members of the 2018 National Junior Team, or to end the culture of toxic behaviour within our game.
For that we unreservedly apologize.
We know we need to do more to address the behaviours, on and off the ice, that conflict with what Canadians want hockey to be, and which undermine the many good things that the game brings to our country.
That is why we are taking the following steps immediately:
- We are reopening the investigation into the alleged sexual assault perpetrated by members of the 2018 National Junior Team. This investigation continues to be led by an independent third party and will require all players to participate. Those who do not will be banned from all Hockey Canada activities and programs effective immediately. The investigation, once complete, will be referred to an independent adjudicative panel of current and former judges who will determine the appropriate consequences, which may include a lifetime ban from Hockey Canada activity, on and off the ice. We acknowledge the courage of the young woman involved and respect her decision to participate with the investigation in the manner she chooses.
- We will require all high-performance players, coaches, team staff and volunteers to participate in mandatory sexual violence and consent training. Beginning with the camps taking place this summer, Hockey Canada is requiring athletes and team staff participating in our National Team Programs to participate in additional training on preventing and responding to sexual violence. Going forward, Hockey Canada will be working with all of our provincial member organizations across the country to identify topics for enhanced training, including sexual violence and consent.
- We will conduct a full governance review of Hockey Canada. Hockey Canada will retain an independent, third-party expert to fully examine our organization and make recommendations to ensure our governance is geared to the requirements of a national organization of our scope and influence.
- We are committing to becoming a full signatory to the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC). Hockey Canada recognizes the importance of an independent, specialized organization with the capacity to be the stewards of safe sport programs. Hockey Canada is therefore pleased to commit to become a full Program Signatory of the OSIC, including ceding to OSIC all responsibility for complaints, allegations or concerns at the national programming level that fall under the authority of Hockey Canada and OSIC. Hockey Canada intends to champion the full and successful implementation of OSIC across the entire national sport sector.
- We are creating a new independent and confidential complaint mechanism. Hockey Canada recognizes that toxic behaviour in our sport is a systemic issue that must end. We need to provide victims and survivors with the tools and support to come forward. That is why we are creating a new, fully independent and confidential channel to investigate complaints – even those historical in nature. Complaints at the national programming level will be referred to the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner, while others will be overseen by the new independent mechanism.
Changes to policies and procedures can occur with the stroke of a pen. Those changes are meaningless, however, without an equal commitment to addressing the toxic behaviour that exists in many corners of the game. We know this change will not occur overnight, but we are committed to learning, and working with our partners to do better.
In addition to the measures noted above, we will shortly release a detailed Action Plan that outlines a wide range of steps we are taking within our organization, and with our partners and stakeholders, to advance and improve the culture around our game. Our goal is to ensure the safety, welfare and well-being of everyone participating in and enjoying the game of hockey in Canada.
Delivering on the changes above, as well as those coming in our Action Plan, will require collaboration across the hockey ecosystem. We welcome that collaboration. If we want to see the culture of hockey change for the better, it will be because everyone –– players, coaches, officials, staff, volunteers, sponsors, parents, fans – is contributing and working towards that goal.
We believe hockey is the greatest sport on earth. We know we are at a crossroads, and that the journey ahead of us is an important one that will define not just the game going forward but the future of Hockey Canada.
What happened in London, Ontario in 2018 was completely unacceptable and we once again apologize to Canadians, the young woman, and all those who have been impacted. It’s important for Canadians to understand that upon learning of these allegations, Hockey Canada immediately notified police and Sport Canada, and engaged a respected Canadian law firm to conduct an independent investigation of the matter that spanned more than two years. The process was not perfect, but our goal was to respect the integrity of the investigations. Reopening the investigation is a step towards addressing the disappointment so many feel about the outcome of the process we followed.
Our organization has strived to work in the best interest of Canadians, but we recognize many of the actions we are taking now should have been taken sooner, and faster. We own that and will do better to deliver on our responsibilities to Canadians.
Canadians have been loud and clear: you expect our national sport and those representing it to work hard to earn your trust each day. We have heard you and are committed to making the changes necessary to allow us to be the organization you expect us to be, and to restore your confidence and trust in us.