A junior hockey broadcaster has been fired for discriminatory comments that charged the referee with biased officiating favoring First Nation players.
The incident took place when the Pictou County Scotians hosted the Eskasoni Junior Eagles. Leading by two, the Scotians began a parade to the penalty box in the third period, picking up seven penalty calls. Eskasoni was penalized only once. The Eagles took full advantage, tying the game at 2-2.
An unnamed commentator during the online broadcast of the game implied that the imbalance in penalties was due to a bias by the referee.
“I wonder if he has a band card?” pondered the broadcaster.
A Certificate of Indian Status card, colloquially called a ‘band card’ would indicate that the official was a member of a First Nations tribe.
“I was just shocked with the comment,” Eskasoni First Nation Chief Leroy Denny told the CBC. Denny is also president of the team, whose players are not exclusively Indigenous.
“[I’m] discouraged and saddened that happened because there’s really no place for this in hockey. As our team, we always push inclusiveness all the time.”
From the Pictou County Scotians Junior B Team:
During the 3rd period of Sunday night’s game against the Eskasoni Eagles, the individual tasked with commentating the live stream made culturally insensitive remarks towards the referee and opposing team.
The Pictou County Scotians were made aware of these remarks and investigated the matter the following day. The individual in question has since been relieved of his duties and will no longer be permitted to take part in further streams.
The organization condemns the language used and wants to be clear that it does not reflect the views or thoughts of the organization.
The Pictou County Scotians believe in inclusiveness and apologize to anyone who may have heard, or has been effected [sic] by the comments.
Further, the organization would like to apologize to the Eskasoni Eagles and wish them continued success in an already outstanding season.
The Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League also issued a statement:
“It has come to our attention that an incident occurred on January 29, 2023, during the Pictou County Scotians’ livestream of their game against the Eskasoni Eagles. In short, the commentator for the Scotians made culturally insensitive remarks aimed towards the opposing team and referees. The NSJHL denounces such remarks as they are disrespectful and harmful not only to the individuals whom were targeted by these words, but also the cultural and overall integrity of our league at large. An environment wherein any sort of discrimination exists goes directly against our values as a league and such conduct will not be tolerated.”
“The NSJHL would like to take this opportunity to say we are committed to diversity and inclusion and welcome players, teams, staff, and fans of all backgrounds and life histories. We believe that hockey is a game for everyone and that including everyone enriches the game we all love.”
No confirmation on the name of the actual broadcaster involved.
The Eskasoni Junior Eagles won the game 3-2 in a shootout.