Former commissioner of the CWHL takes aim at Hockey Canada

Former CWHL Commissioner Brenda Andress (right)

Guest Opinion: Hockey Canada Brass Must Step Down

By Brenda Andress

Hockey Canada exists because of youth registration fees and our tax dollars. It is time to hold leaders and board members of this organization accountable for their role in perpetuating a hockey culture that condones violence, disrespect and toxic masculinity. It’s time to call on these individuals to step down. It’s time to do the right thing for our sport.

If we want a safe, inclusive and thriving hockey culture in this country, they must stand down.

The Canadian Women’s Hockey League (now no longer operating) went to the Canadian government many times over a decade-long existence to request funding to develop a professional women’s league in North America. We had hopes to provide opportunities and jobs for women as coaches, players, general managers as well as to support the ongoing work of countless volunteers in creating opportunities and a development pathway for young girls in the game. The answer we received was that Sport Canada gives money to Hockey Canada to grow women’s hockey in Canada.

We requested an investment from Hockey Canada, and were informed that the women’s program budget would have to cover any donations taken out of their allotted funds. The women’s program did not have enough funding for their own national programs, yet despite these shortages, they always found a way to give us a small donation.

Now we discover we’re being doubly hit: not only did the organization use participant registration fees to maintain a code of silence that protected accused perpetrators of violence, but they also continually denied girls and women the necessary funding to help grow the game for your daughters. I would strongly suggest that the dollars that are currently in that fund be distributed to girls’ grassroots programs to offer free registration for a year. Therefore, giving back to what was taken.

In the ‘real world’ of for-profit enterprise, would the general public be so understanding? Would a corporation stand in the front of the public without providing real answers? Would they spend participant fees without explaining how these dollars were really spent?

This is not just about the disrespect and abuse of our daughters; boys and men suffer in cultures of toxic masculinity too. They learn a profound disrespect for women, but also for each other. Do not confuse the fact that Hockey Canada holds the power over our children and has been forging their characters.

To date, in all the statements and releases, no one has called on Hockey Canada staff, board members and leaders to take courses on how to prevent sexual assault. How can men who don’t understand that they have perpetuated a toxic culture possibly dismantle it? Will it be forced upon all the volunteers to pay the price of these misjudgments?

Sport is the universal language and what we say and do in the days that come will reflect on all of us in Canada.

Brenda Andress is the president and founder of SheIs and the former commissioner of the CWHL.


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