WAYCOBAH, N.S. _ An Indigenous hockey player from Nova Scotia who shared his experience of racism on the ice says he’s been inspired to stick with the sport after an outpouring of support from professionals and peers.
Logan Prosper of Waycobah First Nation said he was taunted with racist comments from opposing players and parents during a game in Cheticamp, N.S., last week.
Prosper said he was hurt and angry after a player told him “all you natives look like turds in your helmets” during the game.
Since sharing his experience, the 16-year-old said he’s received hundreds of messages from players telling him to stick with the sport, including former NHL player Cody McCormick.
Players across Canada and some in the U.S. have rallied behind Prosper by posting photos of red tape on their hockey sticks.
He even got a call from former NHL forward Akim Aliu, whose allegations that former Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters used a racial slur against him led to Peters’ resignation and sparked discussions about racism in hockey.
“He inspired me to get my story out,” Prosper said. “On the phone call, he told me he looked up to me for speaking out. That really meant a lot to me coming from him.”
Hockey Nova Scotia, the province’s governing body for amateur hockey, has announced a task force to deal with discrimination in the sport in light of Prosper’s experience.
Amy Walsh, executive director of Hockey Nova Scotia, said Wednesday the team will include a human rights lawyer and representatives from the Indigenous, African Nova Scotian and LGBTQ communities.
“At Hockey Nova Scotia, we believe that the rink should be a welcoming place for everyone. We believe that racism and discrimination have no place in our game,” Walsh’s statement read.
The organization met with the Prosper family Thursday night, and the teen said it felt good to be heard.
He said he’s not looking for disciplinary action, but hopes his story changes attitudes and makes the hockey community a more welcoming place.
“I want them to learn from their mistakes and hopefully change,” he said. “It’s a healing process for me and the people who have gone through it and a learning process for the people who said this.”
Phillip Prosper, a hockey player himself, said he couldn’t be more proud of his son.
The family has heard from people who reported similar experiences that didn’t lead to any changes, and Phillip said it’s surreal to see the organization investigate racism in hockey because of his son’s story.
“This went from a negative to a positive tenfold,” he said.
By Holly McKenzie-Sutter in St. John’s, N.L.