Montreal-area family speaks out after son was called racist slur in hockey rink, causing brawl
A L’Île-Perrot, Que., family is denouncing intolerance in hockey after their son was called a racist slur by a Valleyfield player at a game last Saturday.
“Obviously when it first happened, the first emotion is sheer rage because you try to protect your kids from going through this kind of thing,” said Dwight Chase, the boy’s father.
Aiden Chase, who plays with the L’Île-Perrot Midget A U18 team, was on a high when his team beat Valleyfield 3-1 — until a player called him the N-word.
The infraction was recorded on the game’s scorecard. The penalty is typically a five-game suspension.
“I was shocked, mostly, and upset. That’s why my first reaction was, to turn around and confront the kid on the ice,” said the 16-year-old.
“That opened up my mind to how this is and this is something that can often happen.”
A brawl ensued on the ice and L’Île-Perrot assistant coach Jason McCaig was pushed while trying to break it up.
WATCH | L’Île-Perrot assistant hockey coach tries to break up fight:
Quebec hockey coach shoved onto ice
A coach for a midget A team in L’Île-Perrot, Que., was pushed after intervening when a player from the Valleyfield team called one of his players a racial slur.
McCaig said this isn’t the first time a Valleyfield player has uttered a racist slur against Aiden on the ice.
“The first thing that went through my mind when I heard Aiden skate over to the bench and say that was ‘Oh my God, not again,'” he said.
“Earlier in the season, in the first game against Valleyfield, the same issue occurred and unfortunately there was no referee that had heard those words.”
Coach hurt in brawl
When McCaig saw the fight break out, he decided to get his players off the ice right away.
As he started pulling his players out, McCaig said he didn’t see the other team’s coach coming toward him — all he knew was that moments later he was “flying down the ice.” He says he was shoved and the impact left deep bruising and a contusion on his hip.
CBC contacted the Valleyfield coach’s home but his wife said they did not want to comment on the incident.
On their way back to the locker rooms with the head coach, McCaig says parents of Valleyfield players threw a garbage can lid at his colleague, hitting his head.
Other parents were taunting the L’Île-Perrot players and asking to fight them, said McCaig.
He called the police who arrived shortly after to get statements from both teams.
McCaig later got footage from a video camera broadcasting the game online. He brought it to the police station and filed a complaint against the coach who allegedly pushed him. The Sûreté du Québec (SQ) has opened a file looking into the incident.
The SQ said it cannot comment on ongoing investigations.
“I honestly haven’t seen anything like that in the 13 years that I’ve been coaching,” said McCaig.
‘They keep pushing forward’
Although they were shaken by Saturday’s events, Aiden and his family are ready to keep working toward winning upcoming tournaments.
“It hurt at first but then I got over it,” said Aiden. “I just want to have a way to speak out, so these kinds of things don’t happen in the future, for other people trying to enjoy the sport that they love.”
His mother, Laurie Philipps, said the next night, L’Île-Perrot played again and the team bagged another win.
“I think Aiden felt the support of everyone around him. They keep pushing forward,” said Philipps.
“I’m grateful he’s surrounded by a father and a team that can help him get through it.”
Chase agrees and says the most important thing is to keep his son’s love for hockey alive.
“We decided not to let fear ruin anything for us. We decided not to be afraid. We’re going to be there. We’re going to be just as loud, just as cheerful and just as happy,” he said.
“We’re not going to let anybody, despite their words, come and ruin and take the love and innocence of the game away.”
The Fédération Québecoise de Hockey sur Glace Région du Lac St Louis, the association representing both teams, said “these are not gestures and values that we wish to transmit to our young people.”
“Hockey is an inclusive sport advocating, among other things, the values of camaraderie and respect, where everyone can thrive and achieve in a healthy way,” it said in a statement.
It refused to comment on any disciplinary actions, saying a committee will meet with the players.
But McCaig is determined to keep pushing, to shift hockey culture toward more acceptance, and he points to multiple reports of racism and discrimination in the sport that have come out over the last few years.
“We can always do more and that’s what we’re looking to gain out of this, to educate people. If we open the eyes of one person and change their thoughts on this, we’ve won,” he said.
“We’re in 2022, we’re not back in 1940. This should not be allowed to be taking place.”
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.