Reality check. A strange claim about Indigenous women on the Canadian hockey team

How many Indigenous women have participated in the 20 years of women’s hockey at the Winter Olympics? The sports media, which is expressing concern about parity, has made a sorry record sorrier.

Indigenous athletes Brigette Lacquette and Jocelyne Larocque | Canadian Press

Several times during the Gold Medal match between the USA and Canada at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics, CBC broadcaster Matt Lee erroneously stated that 25-year-old defenceman Brigette Lacquette, a Cote First Nations woman from Mallard, Manitoba (about 300 km northwest of Winnipeg on the border with Saskatchewan), was the first Indigenous member of the Canadian team.

On February 20, the Toronto Star trumpeted: Bruce Arthur: ‘Beat them on the ice’: The rise of Brigette Lacquette, the first Indigenous woman on Canada’s Olympic hockey team.

“In December, after selection camp, they [Hockey Canada] called her into the office. She was officially the first First Nations player on Canada’s national Olympic women’s hockey team.” Mr Arthur called it “a great Canadian story.”

Following her selection, numerous outlets such as Color of HockeySportsnet, and the CBC all tweeted articles touting her as the first Indigenous woman to gear up for Team Canada (she almost made the 2014 Olympic team).

Four years ago, Jocelyne Larocque of Ste. Anne, Man who is Métis had already been identified by Alberta Native News as “the first Aboriginal woman to play for Team Canada in the Olympics Games” (the two were teammates in Pyeongchang). Ms Larocque, 29, has been a member of Canada’s National Women’s Team since 2008 and has played over 100 international matches. [1]

Dr. Janice Forsyth, an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Western Ontario and the Director of First Nations Studies, did what journalists and editors with all their seeming concern about parity, inclusion and expanding the game should have done when the news surrounding Ms Lacquette came out and challenged this information:

It seems that the sports media and Hockey Canada all follow the federal government’s colonialist designation, whereby only those whom it arbitrarily designates as “First Nations” can be considered Indigenous.

Other Indigenous Olympians at Pyeongchang include Rene Bourque, Métis, hockey and assistant captain; Kevin Koe, Gwi’chin First Nation, curler; Spencer O’Brien, Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation, snowboarder; and Jesse Cockney, Inuvialuk, skier.

Only four Indigenous athletes have competed for Canada at the summer Olympics since the Second World War: Mary Spencer (2012), Waneek Horn-Miller (2000), Angela Chalmers (1988, 1992) and Alwyn Morris (1984).

The formation and admission of an Indigenous team in the Olympic Games will be a positive development for affirming the right to be in reality of all Indigenous people, their sports and their athletes.

– Tony Seed

With a file from the website, hockeyinsociety.com

Note

1 Jocelyn Dawn Marie Larocque is one of the many Canadian women hockey players who have had to go to the United States for coaching, training and an ixpensive education from one of the NCAA athlete factories. According to her profile, she starred for the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs where she was a two-time NCAA Division national champion (2008, 2010). While at University she was awarded Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Defensive Player of the Year and was also WCHA’s Outstanding Student Athlete of the Year for 2010-11. She was named All-American first team defenseman in 2009 and 2011 first team Reebok All-American by the American Hockey Coaches Association. She has been a member of two WCHA Frozen Four championship teams and played for Team Canada in the women’s hockey World Championships.

Postscript

Unbelievably Ms Larocque has been targeted by the US and Canadian media for so-called lack of sportsmanship for taking off a Silver medal during the award ceremony following the US victory. This morning, two hosts of the NBC TV “Access” programme ranted about the so-called slight to the USA by the young athlete for five minutes. It is as if they not only wanted gold but also demanded pound of flesh. The slander is pathetic: her crime is not that she refused to accept the medal, but that she took it off after it being hung around her neck.

This nonsense from the Americans is too much and it spreads like a disease to some Canadian reporters who are too lazy to write their own impressions. Grant Robertson of the Globe and Mail, ostensibly a Canadian newspaper, also joined in, chirping that “rules are rules.” This journalist could not even explain what those rules actually are. The pressure on the women’s team and on Ms Larocque has been so great that she has been forced to issue a public apology.

All the exaggeration about how it is a slight to the US is bullshit. At the Junior World hockey tournament few months ago Canada beat Sweden 3-1 and the captain of the Swedish team threw his silver medal into the crowd because he was so frustrated with the loss. That was the best team Sweden has had in a long time; they played great but still lost. This same group also lost a close final in a previous tournament and they also lost when they were playing in the Under 18 world championship. This poor kid snapped and thew his medal away, but that this was some kind of slight to anyone was nonsense. Of course since the US was not involved in the junior final it did not become a big incident. Some Canadian reporters mentioned it that it was a questionable decision to throw a medal away but it was not blown out of proportion. Yet the same amoral and capitulationist media is still silent about the US men’s hockey coach, Tony Granato, who refused to shake hands with his Russian counterpart following a 4-0 defeat on Feb. 17, explicitly accusing him of “running up the score” – in a 4-0 game.

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