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With World Juniors Underway, Advocates Call for Changes in Hockey Culture

The World Junior Hockey Tournament has returned to the east coast, with many of the games being played in Halifax for the first time in 20 years.

Halifax activists protested outside of Thursday’s Canada game against Austria to remind people of the sexual assault allegations made the last time the tournament was held there.

“We want to send Hockey Canada a message,” said social activist and Equity Watch member Judy Haiven.

“We’re not against hockey, I’m not against people who play or want to watch. We are against what has been going on and the rape culture, which is alive and well in Hockey Canada.”

N.S. Voice of Women for Peace advocate Kathrin Winkler wants to see a change.

“There’s a language that has evolved around that. And if there’s a language, there’s a culture,” Winkler said. “And we need to change it.”

Allegations of sexual assault have been made against World Junior hockey players involved in the 2018 as well as the 2003 tournament.

Those allegations are currently under investigation by an Independent Third Party (ITP).

“The 19-year-old players from 2003 are now 39 years old. So I’m thinking that there might be somebody out there, you know, a hockey parent, a hockey mom, somebody watching the World Juniors right now who thinks back to that time and may have information to share,” says Jennifer White. “And anything that they could bring forward would be very, very helpful.”

White is a lawyer who has been retained as an ITP investigator for the 2003 Halifax World Juniors allegations.

She says she is hopeful that having this years tournament return to Halifax may spark memories.

“Those memories might not come back until maybe you’re watching the games over the next few days and you’re thinking back to where you were, you know, on these exact same dates 20 years ago, up until the gold medal final.”

White, alongside the Halifax Regional Police, is looking for any information about what happened during the Dec. 26, 2002 to Jan. 5, 2003 timeframe.

“There is no statute of limitations on sexual assault,” White says. “And certainly for this investigation, under the Hockey Canada policy, there is no statute of limitations. So there’s nothing barring us from making a determination about what happened way back when.”

Hockey Canada told Global News via email that it will not be making anyone available to comment, nor will it provide any statement on this specific matter.

And earlier this month, Hockey Canada says its third-party investigation into an alleged 2018 sexual assault of a woman is complete, but says the report will remain confidential.

Source: Global News