Jonathan Diaby, a 24-year-old defence-man with the Jonquiere Marquis of the Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey endured numerous racial slurs during a recent game. Diaby was serving a penalty in the box when fans began yelling derogatory remarks, while one fan even pulled out their phone displaying photos of baboons. Diaby was not the only one who experienced this discrimination. His family watching the game was forced to move out of their seats to another section in the arena, while security allowed the hooligans to stay and watch. Eventually, when Diaby received another penalty later in the game, rather than go to the box, he along with his family, left the game.
Hockey has been described as ‘Canada’s Game‘. A game that has deep roots in Canadian culture and identity. But with the recent developments in Quebec, it seems not all Canadians are accepted by their fellow Canadians in the sport. As Diaby describes, he is “a black person in a white man’s sport”, rather than a Canadian playing Canada’s sport. In Canadian hockey, Diaby is a visible minority because he is seen as distinct by the fans at the game based on physical appearance. Ethnicity is usually paired with a given racial identity. Although ethnically a Canadian, Diaby has been labeled as a black athlete, which has led fans to see him as an anomaly and that he should not be playing hockey. As Walker, Halpenny and Deng describe, discrimination begins when someone is seen as a visible minority especially if the individual is excelling at the sport, such as Diaby playing at this high level.
Hockey is a game that all Canadians share a love for. It is time to let all Canadians share in playing the game, without discrimination on any basis.