August 22, 2020 – The Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) today announced details of the Virtual Town Hall it will be holding to examine issues of racism and discrimination. The event will be hosted on Thursday September 17, 2020 at 7 p.m. The Town Hall will be organized in a manner to ensure all participants have a safe space to share their experiences.
Moderated by Michael Smith, the Town Hall will welcome feedback and conversation from GTHL parents, coaches, players, officials and stakeholders who have been impacted by racism and discrimination or who wish to comment on these social justice issues in minor hockey.
Kim Davis, Executive Vice-President of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives, & Legislative Affairs for the National Hockey League will lead off the evening.
On June 12, the GTHL announced the intent to host a Town Hall and the appointment of an Independent Committee in response to current world events and situations that have come to light in the hockey community. The Independent Committee will be co-chaired by Michael and Anastasia Bucsis.
“The Town Hall will not only provide the Independent Committee with the foundational information that will play an integral part of our work, it will also provide the GTHL with an opportunity to listen and learn. “ said Michael Smith. “It will provide those individuals, who have felt silenced, with a voice that will impact progressive change within this organization.”
Initiatives such as the Town Hall and Independent Committee align with the strategic pillars established at the Transition Game Summit on Culture, Inclusivity and Diversity held by the GTHL in November 2019. The strategies originated at that event are being further developed by six Task Teams. Information on the Summit and its outcomes can be found here.
“This Town Hall will be an important step in the continuing journey the GTHL is taking,” said Scott Oakman, GTHL Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer. “We want to hear the lived experiences of our players and their families so we can continue to address the necessary changes needed to make the game welcoming and inclusive for all participants.”
The GTHL is committed to social change and is actively listening to our participants, families, coaches and officials. Based on information and recommendations from the Town Hall, along with input from other stakeholders and experts, the Independent Committee will be examining all aspects of how the GTHL deals with anti-racism and discrimination, including in education and training, rules and enforcement, reporting, promoting access and inclusion, and increasing diversity in leadership positions across the League.
“The events of the recent past have caused us to reflect on what we do, how we do it and contemplate what else we should and can do, ” said GTHL President Don West. “This Town Hall, and the formation of the Independent Committee, will create the forums necessary for voices to be heard. It will allow us to tackle racism and discrimination so that we can create a game where all players and families are seen, heard and valued. I am grateful for those who continue to step forward to make our organization better.”
Those interested in participating in the Town Hall can register at this link.
About the Greater Toronto Hockey League
Founded in 1911, the GTHL is a non-profit organization and the largest minor hockey league in the world. The GTHL registers more than 40,000 annual participants in Mississauga, Toronto, Markham and Vaughan. The purpose of the GTHL is to govern organized hockey for youth within its jurisdiction, and to foster the development of good character, citizenship and sportsmanship.
About Michael Smith
Michael is a partner at LMS Lawyers practicing in criminal, civil and administrative law. He is a law professor at Carleton University. He was a member of the Canadian National wrestling team for 6 years, competing at the World and Pan Am Championships. Michael is the Past President of AthletesCAN, an organization dedicated to an athlete centered sport system, developing sport policy in Canada and advocating a strong sport culture. Michael has acted as lead legal counsel for Team Canada at various major competitions, including the Olympic Games. He is an arbitrator and a member of the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC) Investigations Unit, dealing with cases involving discrimination and sport related issues.
About Anastasia Bucsis
Over a 24-year speed skating career, Anastasia represented Canada at 2 Olympic Games, 6 World Championships and 46 World Cup events. She was the only athlete from North America to come out publicly in opposition to Russia’s anti LGBTQ+ laws before the Sochi 2014 Olympics. She is a passionate advocate for mental health issues, eradicating homophobia in sport, and telling the stories of Canada’s High Performance athletes.
About Kim Davis
Kim is the Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives & Legislative Affairs at the National Hockey. Davis has been recognized by Hockey News’ 2019 Top 100 Most Influential Leaders in the sport, Adweek’s 30 Most Powerful Women in Sports, Sports Business Journal’s GameChangers, and Savoy Magazine’s Most Influential Women in Corporate America. She has received other notable recognitions including Savoy Magazine’s 2018 Top 100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America and showcased in Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business. In 2012, she was profiled with First Lady Michelle Obama in Essence magazine’s 28 Most Influential Black Women in America. Davis earned a B.A. in Economics from Spelman College and has completed the Aspen Institute’s Executive Leadership Program and the Stanford University Executive E-learning Program.
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