Sheldon Kennedy “disturbed” hockey in Canada did not require players to participate in an investigation into the attack

Sheldon Kennedy tuned in as Hockey Canada executives faced question after question.

Tom Renny and Scott Smith were annoyed by lawmakers in Ottawa over the organization’s handling of alleged eight-player sexual violence and a subsequent out-of-court settlement.

Voice for victims after his own attempt to be bullied by then-coach Graham James in youth hockey, Kennedy had a similar reaction when a sexual assault story involving former potential Chicago Blackhawks player Kyle Beach broke last fall while watching the match. I am deploying the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

Editor’s note: The following story deals with sexual violence and may be disturbing to some readers.

If you or someone you know needs support, those in Canada can find country-specific centers, crisis lines and services. TIMES. For readers in America, a list of resources and references for survivors and their loved ones can be found TIMES.

“An archaic response to a human problem,” Kennedy said in a telephone interview with The Canadian Press on Tuesday. “There is an expectation that there will be transparency when something like this happens.

“That’s what puzzles Canadians.”

Hockey Canada quietly settled the case last month after a woman identified as “EM” in court records said she was sexually assaulted by members of the country’s 2018 World Youth Hockey Team in June of that year after an event in London, Ont. The 24-year-old woman has sought $ 3.55 million in damages from Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and unnamed players.

Smith, president and chief operating officer of Hockey Canada, who is ready to take over from leaving Reni as chief executive on July 1, testified before a House of Commons committee this week that team members were “strongly encouraged” to talk to third-party investigators hired by the national sports body.

But this was not a requirement. This left lawmakers and Kennedy surprised.

“One thing that worried me was that there was no mandatory player involvement in the investigation,” said the former NHL player. I think, “So, how’s this going?”

None of the allegations have been proven in court. TSN was the first to announce the settlement, details of which were not released, late last month.

Smith testified on Monday that he said 12 or 13 of the 19 players in London were involved in the Hockey Canada investigation, which ended in September 2020.

Hockey Canada has repeatedly said that the woman chose not to talk to the police or her investigators. Smith and Renee reiterated on Monday that the woman also chose not to identify the players. Smith said London police had informed Hockey Canada that the criminal investigation had been completed since February 2019.

“This incident needs to be broken down to the lowest common denominator,” Kennedy said. “They need to understand every part of it so that they can correct the wrong thing, so that they can make a strategy to ensure that it never happens again.

– And if it happens, how will we cope?

Kennedy’s Respect Group runs harassment and bullying programs for parents, coaches, trainers and program leaders for teens and youth across the country under the umbrella of Hockey Canada.

He said, however, there was no appetite for such player training.

“There are eight John Doe,” Kennedy said of the alleged incident. “How not to step on one of John Doe’s and say, ‘This is wrong.’

Kennedy said elite-level training athletes – and all levels – must go beyond ice and fitness.

“What do we teach these young men how important it is to be a leader in this space? That we stand for these things, we stand for the people who are hurt? ”Said Kennedy, who has also partnered with the NHL in recent years on similar issues. “What are we doing to educate these young players so that they become your champions in the game?

“What a possibility. The ball was thrown into that space.”

The NHL is conducting its own investigation because many of the players attending the event in honor of the Canadian youth team, which won a gold medal in 2018, are already in the league.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in an email that the expectation is that all players currently associated with the NHL will be involved in our process, and so far we have not received any indications that this will not be the case.

He did not answer a subsequent question about what would happen if a player refused to participate.

In Ottawa, meanwhile, the Conservatives opened the question period on Tuesday by asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about Canadian hockey, who said he had informed Sport Canada about the alleged attack in June 2018.

Trudeau told the House of Commons that Hockey Canada is no different than any other organization or workplace when it comes to sexual misconduct and harassment.

“We want to get to the bottom of this, and all options are being considered to determine the next steps,” he said. “This behavior is unacceptable.”

Sports Minister Pascal Saint-Onge, who took over the ministry last fall, said she was not told about the alleged incident until she received a call from Renny two days before TSN revealed the story.

St-Onge said Tuesday that Hockey Canada told Sport Canada four years ago that the allegation had been forwarded to London police.

“This is a disgusting situation,” she said in French. – This is not the end.

“Like all Canadians, I’m disgusting and horrible,” St-Onge added in a response. “I’m not happy with Hockey Canada’s explanation.”

John Natter, a conservative shadow minister for Canada’s legacy and deputy chairman of the committee, issued a statement with three colleagues calling Hockey Canada’s allegations and involvement “incredibly embarrassing.”

“Potential perpetrators of sexual violence are fulfilling perhaps their wildest dreams of pursuing a career in professional hockey,” the statement said. “They may one day become coaches and mentors in positions of power.

St-Onge said Tuesday that Hockey Canada “must take action to end the culture of silence” and require players to participate in the investigation.

“All sports organizations must ensure that their members are responsible,” she said.

Earlier, St-Onge ordered a financial audit of Hockey Canada to make sure the settlement did not involve public funds.

The federal dollar accounts for six percent of Hockey Canada’s funding, according to the organization’s annual report for 2020-21, although the actual figure is not specified.

Smith told the Hockey Commission of Canada that he was liquidating the assets to meet the required settlement amount, adding that the CHL and the players allegedly involved had not contributed.

Liberal MP Anthony Hausfader, a member of the committee, said in an email that he was “concerned” to hear this, especially after leaders testified that they did not know the identities of the players involved due to an incomplete investigation.

“No one in business would settle a civil lawsuit (except for the value of the inconvenience) without knowing whether the allegations are true or not and who is involved,” Housefather wrote. “It also worries me that the perpetrators of the alleged attack (if true) have never been sanctioned.”

Kennedy said the London incident was part of a larger hockey problem that he continues to tackle at the system level.

“Not one person made a mistake,” he said. “We are dealing with something bigger than this incident. Today we know better. And to know better means to do better.

“We didn’t do better here.”

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