The mother of an Ottawa minor league hockey player says she wants an apology after her 15-year-old son was allegedly called the N-word by another player during a recent recreational game in Orléans.
The woman — whose family CBC has agreed not to identify due to the boy's age — said she doesn't know which player on the opposing team allegedly uttered the racial slur.
"But I do think it's important for people in our city to understand that racialized players are still, in 2024, experiencing this," she said.
The slur was allegedly made during a non-competitive game last week between the boy's Leitrim Minor Hockey Association (LMHA) team and a team from the Orléans Minor Hockey Association (OMHA). Both associations are part of the wider Gloucester Hockey Association (GHA) district.
The mother said that while her son is generally calm, he was visibly upset after jostling for the puck with a player from the other team.
"He said, 'It's Black History Month of all times. This is not a time when this should be happening.' And then I said, 'This is never OK.'"
The mother said her son, who couldn't remember the player's jersey number, reported the incident to his coach. The coach then reported it to a referee, who filled out a game incident report, she said.
Could face suspension
In separate emailed statements, the OMHA and LMHA each said the accusation is being taken "extremely seriously."
"The goals of the OMHA are to encourage sportsmanship and fair play, develop hockey skills and promote good character in our players," the OMHA said.
"We will follow the Hockey Eastern Ontario and Hockey Canada guidelines and regulations and address this matter accordingly."
Reg MacDonald, president of the GHA, said it was "very disappointing" to hear of the allegation, adding he knew the OMHA was also very disappointed.
MacDonald said incidents involving the N-word have become rare since the launch in recent years of a "maltreatment, bullying, and harassment protection and prevention policy."
He said the incident report will go to Hockey Eastern Ontario, whose rules are outlined by Hockey Canada.
If a player is found to have discriminated against a peer, they're automatically suspended for five games and required to apologize, MacDonald said.
OMHA executives will meet with the entire team in the hopes of finding out who was behind the slur, MacDonald said, adding it was on that player to "own up" to it.
'A teachable moment'
"It really does come down to [being] a teachable moment to this group of individuals on this team that it's just not acceptable," he said.
"There could be severe repercussions if something like this happens again."
In addition to an apology, the player probably needs some training, the mother of the boy said.
"I know kids make mistakes and they don't always get it right," she said.
"But ... if we as parents and adults don't take it as an opportunity to correct it, then my concern is it becomes acceptable and normalized. And I think that's very dangerous."