Resident seeking positive change in the community, sports
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
Sioux Lookout resident Marc-Nicholas Martin-Paulichenko is looking to encourage positive change in sports and the community after an on-ice incident while playing hockey in Sioux Lookout.
He said he was called derogatory comments during a Sioux Lookout Hockey League (SLHL) game on Feb. 23 that went beyond the typical hockey chirping and banter.
“In a recent ice hockey game, I was called a ‘retard’ by two players at two different points in a Sioux Lookout Hockey League (SLHL) game… The use of derogatory comments go beyond the game of hockey, meaning they are unacceptable on the ice, in the workplace, or anywhere else,” said Martin-Paulichenko.
“At the same time this incident took place, Thunder Bay was hosting the country’s Special Olympics Winter Games, which is an organization dedicated to enriching the lives of those with an intellectual disability through sport. On one of the Special Olympic chapter websites, they explain how the use of the R-word is inappropriate, ‘When used in this way, the R-word can apply to anyone or anything, and is not specific to someone with a disability. But, even when the R-word is not said to harm someone with a disability, it is hurtful.’” he said.
Martin-Paulichenko submitted a formal complaint to the SLHL, who have since responded to the incident.
“The Sioux Lookout Hockey League is aware of competing versions of an on-ice incident on February 23, 2020 in which a derogatory term was uttered towards a player. While the specific details of both versions are trivial, we acknowledge that the term was used on the ice. The SLHL does not condone use of words that are derogatory or demeaning whether directed at an individual or a group. We consulted with the involved players and on-ice officials by email and telephone, and held a meeting amongst the League organizers to address the incident and decide on the League’s course of action,” the SLHL said in their official response.
“The League has a policy for supplementary discipline for players who use a racial slur or assault, verbally or physically, an on-ice official. We acknowledge that this policy does not directly address the specific word used in the incident. The League executive and representative of the on-ice officials will revisit this incident during our summer meetings to determine what, if anything, the League can do to address this moving forward… Mr. Martin-Paulichenko claims that, ‘Derogatory comments DO NOT belong in hockey’. We agree completely with his statement.
“We apologize if there was offense taken during this incident, and want to assure everyone involved that we will do whatever we can do to ensure our League is a safe and inclusive environment for all hockey players to enjoy,” the SLHL said.
Martin-Paulichenko said he believes that, with the resources that are available, everyone can work together to create a respectful, safe, and inclusive environment in sport.
“The league responded with a thorough investigation into the matter; however, their response suggests officials are bystanders to name-calling, given the fact they are not in a position to police words unless they are threatening, abusive, or racial. But what about people with developmental disabilities? Hockey Canada and Human Rights Legislation identifies all of these as one of the targets of bullying. I believe officials, teammates, and opponents can all work together to create a respectful, safe place for everyone in sport,” he said.
“Hockey Canada does an excellent job of educating bullying prevention through their Speak Out! program. There are great resources online for anyone involved with the sport. The town has done a great job posting signs at entrances, reminding us all that name-calling is not right,” he added.
The Municipality of Sioux Lookout said they have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to bullying and harassment in their facilities, and they rely on groups and leagues to use internal methods to protect players and members.
“The Municipality promotes fair-play and has a zero tolerance policy for bullying and harassment in all of its facilities,” said Municipal Clerk Brian MacKinnon.
“The Municipality relies on dispute resolution mechanisms that are in place by the various user-groups at the Recreation Centre and Arena. These groups typically have internal processes to deal with concerns from their membership, and methods to escalate resolution to higher levels within their respective organizations should the need arise,” he added.
Martin-Paulichenko said community members can take part in an online pledge to help end the use of the R-word in the community and across Canada.
“One action step we all can take now is making an online pledge to end the use of the R-word at motionball.com/nogoodway or by using the hashtag #NoGoodWay. On the pledge site, it states that as of January 1, 2020, there have been more than 890,000 tweets containing the R-Word, and every single one hurts… Show your support for Special Olympics athletes and Canadians living with an intellectual disability by encouraging our community to end the use of the R-word because there is #nogoodway. Perhaps this small incident can spark can positive change in our community, schools, and even the hockey rink,” Martin-Paulichenko concluded.
According to motionball.com, “The aim of the #NoGoodWay campaign is to eliminate the word “retard” from everyday conversation. You wouldn’t use other words rooted in discrimination, so why use one that reminds people with intellectual disabilities of bullying and exclusion?”
Motionball.com shares that over 16,000 people have taken the pledge to stop using the R-word. They share, on their website, there has been over one-million tweets containing the R-word since Jan. 1.