A team of First Nations youth hockey players were attacked with racist insults at their tournament in Quebec City earlier this week. Their team is called the First Nations Elites, and the players are 13 and 14 years old. The boys on the team are from First Nations communities across Ontario.
According to parents and the team's manager, Tommy H.J. Neeposh, they were treated with hostility by coaches and parents from the opposing team. One coach even hurled insults directly at the young players, calling them "savages."
Players on the other team taunted the First Nations Elites by imitating a "war cry" during the game, and mocking them with stereotypical gestures, like hitting their mouth with their hands. "They were doing Indian cries and the refs and coaches saw it," Neeposh said.
Not only was nothing done to stop it, but spectators even joined in. In a video posted by Neeposh, people in the audience can be heard yelling "gang de sauvages," or "gang of savages" at the young players. One parent even yelled, "Go home!"
The boys and their parents were hurt by what happened, and Neeposh claims it was the worst he'd ever experienced. But, the Elites came out on top, beating the other team 2-1.
According to tournament's organizer, there's nothing that anyone can do to prevent this kind of mistreatment. He agrees that the allegations are deplorable, but has this to say - "what happens on the ice between young people, we can't control that."
Quebec's minister of Native Affairs also addressed the incident - "All forms of racism in our society are unacceptable. The Gvt of Qc vehemently denounces these events. We have adopted a wide range of measures in our efforts to eradicate prejudices about Indigenous people. This work will continue."