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PWHPA publishes statement on racial injustice

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On Wednesday afternoon, the PWHPA posted a statement to their social accounts condemning police brutality and outlining the organization’s next steps towards creating a more welcoming environment for players and staff of color

Michelle Jay

In a statement posted Wednesday afternoon to their Instagram and Twitter accounts, the PWHPA condemned the racist police attacks on Black individuals like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Jacob Blake, calling the crimes “heinous acts of violence” and vowing to commit themselves to anti-racism education to make the hockey community as a whole a better environment for BIPOC athletes.

Moving forward, the PWHPA has mandated training and education for its staff and players in “Fundamentals of Diversity and Inclusion,” and promoted Team Canada forward Sarah Nurse to a spot on the organization’s player board. Per Emily Kaplan of ESPN, Nurse has replaced Liz Knox, one of the PWHPA’s most vocal advocates, on the board.

As an add-on to the above statement, the PWHPA also posted a plethora of educational anti-racism resources, including Erica Ayala’s Social Justice in Women’s Hockey series, and Dr. Courtney Szto’s policy paper for anti-racism in hockey for Hockey in Society. The organization also suggested financial compensation to those who are doing the work to eliminate racism in hockey, like Renee Hess’ Black Girl Hockey Club and the Hockey Diversity Alliance.

While the PWHPA has been an advocate for amplifying the voices of female athletes since its conception in May of 2019, the organization found itself the subject of criticism from many in the women’s hockey community in recent weeks for its failure to amplify and support Black athletes’ calls for action. The statement posted today was the PWHPA’s first acknowledgement of police brutality and racism in the hockey community since May, when they first posted anti-racism resources in the wake of George Floyd’s murder (source).

“Our statement is late,” the PWHPA admits today, “but our intention was to walk the walk before we talked the talk.”

Connecticut Sun v Washington Mystics Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

With their call to action, the PWHPA joins the ranks of countless athletes pledging to stand against racism in sports — including the women of the WNBA, who have long been dedicated to using their platforms to bring about social change, and the Black players of the NWSL, who recently issued a joint statement vowing to “never stop fighting for progress and justice” (via Margaret “Midge” Purce).

In the wake of Nurse’s appointment to the board, though, it’s important to remember that the onus should never be on BIPOC to educate on anti-racism, nor should they be forced to relive their trauma for the non-Black community to believe them. Moving forward, Nurse’s seat at the table is crucial to giving a voice to marginalized players in women’s hockey, but she shouldn’t have to stand alone and shouldn’t be pressured into being the sole resource for the organization.

“Our love for the sport is not enough,” the PWHPA says. “Hockey culture needs to be better.”

Nurse will join Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, Alyssa Gagliardi, Brianne Jenner, Hilary Knight, Noora Raty, Kimberly Sass, Kendall Coyne-Schofield, and Shannon Szabados on the board.