Hockey Canada issues statement denouncing racism, calling for change

NBA on TNT Analyst Kenny Smith joins the show to talk about the role athletes can play in addressing the racial tensions not only in the United States, but around the world.

As protests against racial injustice continue across the United States and some Canadian cities, Hockey Canada has issued a statement denouncing racism and advocating for discussion and change.

“Recent events have amplified the inequality that exists among us, and now is the time to use the Hockey Canada platform to encourage discussion and change,” the statement reads. “We know racism exists in the world. It is far too common here in Canada, and people of colour experience racism daily. Unfortunately, racism and inequality have occurred in the hockey community. We recognize that and understand that our organization needs to do more to combat acts of injustice and ensure a safe space for everyone.”

The statement comes after George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, died last Monday night in police custody in Minneapolis. The incident, which was captured on video, showed Floyd pinned to the ground with his hands cuffed and Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin – who was identified as the primary officer in the video – with his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck for at least eight minutes.

In the video, Floyd can be heard saying that he couldn’t breathe, and later paramedics are seen lifting an apparently non-responsive Floyd onto a stretcher and into an ambulance.

An independent autopsy has since found that Floyd’s death was “caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain.” After the graphic video circulated widely on social media, the four officers involved in the incident were fired and Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder.

In Canada, thousands of people took part in a peaceful rally in downtown Toronto on Saturday to protest racism around the world and to demand answers in the death of 29-year-old Toronto resident Regis Korchinski-Paquet. The family of Regis Korchinski-Paquet said what began as a 911 call for help ended in her death. Korchinski-Paquet fell from the balcony of a 24th-floor apartment while police were in the home on Wednesday.

“Hockey Canada and its 13 Members will continue to listen and learn, have difficult conversations about our own shortcomings and be open to change if we are going to make progress towards a better future for all participants,” the statement continued. “It is easy to talk about being inclusive, welcoming and safe, but now is a time to listen and support those facing racism. We need to do better, be leaders in equality and be part of the solution.”

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