First Nations Youth Hockey Team racially taunted at tournament, called savages

A youth team of First Nations hockey players was the victim of racist insults, war whoops and chants

Vincent Schilling
Indian Country Today

A youth team of First Nations hockey players was the victim of racist insults, war whoops and chants while competing in a Quebec City youth tournament about a week ago. The First Nation Elites Bantam AAA hockey team is comprised of First Nations hockey players aged 13-15 from Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia.

During the game, Tommy Neeposh, the team manager filmed a 43-minute long video that show how the youth team was subjected to racist remarks and more to include the tomahawk chop, war whoops and more throughout the Coupe Challenge Quebec AAA tournament, held from May 25-27.

At the end of the 43-minute video, a white-haired gentlemen in the stands can be heard yelling “Gang de sauvages” which translates “Gang of savages.”

“The war cries (were) the worst,” Neeposh told CTV News. “(They were) telling our boys that you guys don't belong, your team sucks, Native kids can't play hockey, they can't skate.”

Neeposh said the team spoke with both the referees and the host team, the Quebec Bulldogs, but nothing was done. Neeposh has filed a complaint with the tournament organizers.

Since nothing has happened to Neeposh's satisfaction, he posted a video on Facebook which has gained international attention.

Watch the video here:

Tommy Neeposh, Cree from Nemaska, Quebec talked with Indian Country Today about the incident.

What prompted you to record the video in the first place?

I thought to myself, I’ve got to catch some of this stuff, to reveal this. But I never expected something like ‘gang of savages’ to be yelled from a parent. It was truly way over what I was expecting. Also during the game, the referee was extremely unfair. When I complained, I got kicked out. Our hockey game was full contact, and the Native boys are bigger for their age than the other french boys. The other kids were hitting legs, charging.

The Native boys made a goal and celebrated. The other players taunted my team with a war whoop, and the same ref was laughing at the war cry. The adults don't bother stopping their kids, the ref has the power to stop this type of thing. I asked, “are you going to let them do that to our face?”

How often does this happen?

This happens most of the time, when it involves children it’s just worse. I used to manage a team and would travel to a lot of racist small towns. This has happened all throughout my son’s minor days. Organizations need to step up and stop this type of behavior.

What happened after the video ended?

The man who yelled, he probably thought I was going to fight, but I was just thinking, wow, this is racism. I said, ‘wow, you literally just said that on camera,’ The man said, ‘there is not racists here.’ But saying gang de sauvage is completely racial. I just walked away.

Throughout all of this, the team was riled up, as soon as I got in the hallway, I told the boys to forget about it, they were about to say things to the other team in response, but they went inside. Other kids were giving the Tomahawk Chop as we went into the locker room. As I walked in, I heard gang of savages.

What else happened during this tournament?

I got kicked out for saying, ‘this is hockey, not soccer.” I also looked at the coach on the other team, and he called us savages in front of their players. One of the event participators even agreed the ref was making unfair calls.

What was the outcome of the match?

The kids played all the way through even though we felt like leaving the match. We lost due to the players called out for 40 minutes of penalty and the score was still 5-4. It feels like they hated us because we were too good.

What is your position on Native mascots?

Why do they choose a symbol that represents our culture through a cartoon. This is our ancestry. A lot of people say we should go back where you come from.

What needs to be done?

Most of these players will play under Hockey Quebec in the future, so this racism needs to stop. A private tournament should have a code of anti-racism. I tell my team if there is any racism, they are off the team. There should be a bylaw, racism should be a serious crime, this is just way too much.

I try to teach about racism, I try to tell them we are going to face this type of racism our whole life. I had a kid quit because of racism and he was one of the best - the only reason was racism.

I asked the Quebec Bulldogs organization to apologize, they said there was nothing they could do. That said, I want this to get out, c’mon its 2018.

Neeposh is also hosting a fundraising page for his team on GoFundMe - it is available here: https://www.gofundme.com/5mo1gmo

Follow Indian Country Today associate editor Vincent Schilling on Twitter @VinceSchilling

Comments
No. 1-8
donna613
donna613

When I heard this, I was very disappointed with the Quebecois who in the year 2018, made these racist comments. The comments are born out of ignorance and a lack of appreciation of the seriousness of their words which surprises me as the Quebecois have not been treated as equals in Canada in the past. Their culture is very unique from the culture of English Canada and Canada did not appreciate it. If a Quebecois wanted a higher education, he/she had to learn English as there were no French universities in Quebec. Now, this has changed in the last 25 years or so as the Quebecois fought for their rights. So to say this crap to aboriginal hockey players is a great example of the 'oppressed becoming the oppressors". I remember about 40 years ago I was in Quebec City with friends. We were at an outdoor cafe and we were all chatting. One fellow from the next table came over to me and told me to speak "French". Well, my French Canadian friend ripped a hole through him....in French of course....lol. There are ignorant people everywhere. Just know that if someone doesn't respect you for your colour, race, religion, etc., they are the losers. Just walk away thankful that you know better.

Roger J
Roger J

I've been to 'Indian Country' several times and met different Native People during my travels through Canada and the US. Most of the people I had the pleasure to talk to were Navajo, but I also walked around 'Bears Lodge' last year and felt the magic of the place. I wondered why there are still a town and a State Park bearing the name of General Custer - I would have changed these names decades ago. I had tears in my eyes when I first read about the life and the believes of Nicholas Black Elk. I informed myself about tribal responsibilities in fish hatcheries in the Northwest and had a discussion with a young Navajo lady whether Tecumseh should be the fifth great Chief on the Tee I bought in Page,AZ. Me and my wife have always been treated in a friendly and warm-hearted manner even if our vis-a-vis could not expect to get any monetary benefit from our being there (showing us the right way, helping us at a gas station, or just smiling at us when giving way at our RV on a parking lot). I always felt that these positive vibes came from the heart and were just based on a general love of mankind. I wondered how they succeeded in being so friendly to us, the kinsmen of those who treated them so bad. I am deeply affected by the way these young guys have been treated by racist idiots. I just have a feeling of ‘It’s going to get worse before it gets better'. The world would be a better place with Russell Begaye, e.g., being president of the US instead of the current solution. Keep on being positive, optimistic and don't be discouraged. P.S. I have installed Rock with Wings as my desktop background and am looking forward to seeing it next year - from a respectful distance.

Lots of best wishes from Germany Roger J ('Roger Justintime' is the traveling name I gave to myself for often arriving at the last minute, and because nobody can pronounce my german name without getting his tongue twisted).

Haakan$
Haakan$

Of course prejudice is still alive. I pray that First Nations Youth Hockey Team overcome the taunting. They need to show the world that they are strong people and fight back by winning their games and tournaments. I see this picture of some young powerful people and i am proud of them. Actually they did show their strength by not retaliating to stupid people. Are the non-Natives still threatened by the Natives? My first experience with predudice was when i was only 6 in first grade and it lasted until I graduated high school. Fortunately I went to work for the Ketchikan Indian Community right out of high school, learned about my own culture, some language, to sing, drum and dance. This is very healing to me and when we are preforming i feel no pain, no sorrow, it all disappears. So keep it up First Nations Hockey team, not only as hockey players take your Native pride into all aspects of your life.

Wabaganesis
Wabaganesis

How can we tolerate racist comments from people who are themselves immigrants in this country? It is the world upside down! The land belongs to all races and diversity of cultures makes it rich!Respect should be enshrined in club rules!

CHARLES WALKINGCROW
CHARLES WALKINGCROW

Ice hockey was threatened with a clean up act warning many years ago and by and by it has been kept clean, hockey is a full contact game invented by the American Indians then innovated upon to be known as ice hockey, you would think that the fans of whichever team would have more respect for the people who originated the idea, it is intolerable that people should think that way from a game they adapted.

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