WARNING: This article contains graphic content and may apply to anyone who has experienced or knows a victim of sexual violence.
The president of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) said he will introduce three new measures to help the league combat covert “locker room culture” in the sport.
QMJHL commissioner Jill Coulteau testified Wednesday at a Congressional hearing on violence and harassment in Quebec junior hockey, telling the commission that the revelations about harassment and sexual assault were not related to his league. rice field.
He also said the Quebec League has not received any complaints from players about similar nasty behavior.
The commission decided to hold a hearing on the matter because court documents contained graphic testimony from six of his unnamed former ice hockey players. Their account was part of an attempt to start a class action lawsuit.
Each player described months of abuse including sexual assault, beatings, torture and humiliation at the hands of veteran players. Endured as a rookie in various teams across Canada.
Her allegations were made public earlier this month when an Ontario Superior Court judge declined to confirm the class action lawsuit.
Her three lead plaintiffs, all former junior hockey players, said the QMJHL and other leagues and teams were responsible for a “toxic culture,” predatory violence and bullying.
The judge described the evidence as “horrifying”.
Today, the committee heard representatives from the QMJHL, Canadian Hockey League, Hockey Quebec, Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec and McGill University. The committee consulted representatives of the QMJHL, Canadian Hockey League, Hockey Quebec, Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec and McGill University. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/Radio Kana
New locker room codes will be introduced next season
Natacha Llorens, QMJHL’s director of player services, said the allegations of abuse were “taken seriously” by the league.
“I was shocked to learn about the atrocities,” said Llorens. “As a mother, I can understand her parents’ concerns.”
She said players should attend classes and attend meetings to discuss mental health and sexual abuse earlier this year.
But going forward, the league’s commissioner says it’s implementing new measures to try to change the culture of the sport. A board of independent advisors is working on prevention programs, and the league aims to meet with individual teams to address problematic behavior.
Courtau said there will also be new locker room rules next season that will force everyone entering the locker room to follow a code of conduct.
Martin Lavallee, Gilles Courteau and Natacha Llorens represented his junior hockey league Major in Quebec on Wednesday. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/Radio Canada)
Hazing not defined by league
Courteau said he wants the QMJHL to be a “source of pride for Quebecers.”
“We are doing everything we can to ensure there is zero risk,” said Courteau, adding that the league intervenes, but only “when we are made aware of something.”
He said hazing is not permitted in the league but, when questioned by the politicians, he revealed the league fails to define hazing in players` contracts.
‘Teenage boys don’t want to report on their friends’
Dan MacKenzie, president of the Canadian Hockey League, testified that there is still a lot of work to be done.
“Our experience is that teenage boys don’t want to report on their friends and that is a situation we’re still trying to get past,” said MacKenzie.
Dan MacKenzie says that some players in other leagues in Canada are starting to come forward with reports of hazing. (Rachel Watts/CBC )
Testifying before the committee, MacKenzie spoke about the independent reporting mechanisms in place for players and the disciplinary action players are subject to if they fail to abide by the rules outlined in their mandatory training modules on “BAHD” — an acronym for bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination. He said his “core” concern is to stop the culture of silence and the idea that “what happens in the dressing room stays in the dressing room.”
Mackenzie, who manages more than 60 of his teams across Canada, said he had 12 complaints about bullying and harassment over the past five years, two of which were dismissed and 10 were dealt with. It says.
He said the disciplinary action would range from additional training to his one instance where an employee was fired.
“Nobody wants to see that. I want them to stop. It’s very simple,” Mackenzie said. “Not so much here, but in some other leagues … some players are coming forward and reporting on their teammates.”
“Absolutely disgusting what happened”
A hockey Quebec official said he had not heard of a case like the one described in the class action lawsuit.
Executive Director Jocelyn Thibault told committee members, “What happened is absolutely disgusting and deeply disturbing.”
His organization needs more resources to educate players and combat bullying, he says.
McGill University Professor and Vice President Fabrice Laveau attended the hearing on behalf of the University of Montreal.
The university on Tuesday reversed its decision not to attend after criticism from several MNAs, especially given that the university suspended his football program following his 2005 bullying incident.
In 2005, an 18-year-old freshman filed a lawsuit claiming he was sexually assaulted with a broomstick by a veteran player. Labeau said McGill initially refused to join the committee because the events happened almost 20 years ago.
He told the committee about the changes McGill has made since 2005. This includes educating trainers and staff on rules and codes of conduct and ensuring the reporting process is independent.
“Unfortunately, it’s already happened, so we’re better prepared,” Labue said.
The committee will meet Thursday morning to discuss its findings after the hearing.
Available to anyone who has been sexually abused. You can access hotlines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Canadian Association for the Elimination of Violence database. Call 911 if you are in imminent danger or if you are concerned about your safety or that of others.