A Fort McMurray hockey team has forfeited their season after a locker room video sparked online outrage and claims of racism.
The video, which was released by a fellow teammate onto Snapchat, shows members of a Junior-A hockey team jumping around to a banging drum, while chanting along to the song “Electric Pow Wow Drum” by A Tribe Called Red.
As it turned out, some of the boys that were seen in the video were Indigenous Canadians themselves, with at least one player a member of the Fort McKay Métis.
The uproar which took place in January has now resulted in the team forfeiting the remainder of their season because of “safety concerns.” The boys names were available publicly on the team website, leading to some incredibly nasty comments. Some comments even wished death upon the players, saying that they hoped the players would get involved in a Humboldt Broncos-type crash.
Parents of players on the Fort McMurray Midget-A Junior Oil Barons issued a statement this week strongly criticizing the “brash actions” of the Fort McMurray Minor Hockey Association (FMMHA) after the video surfaced online.
“The video showed a few team members, some of them Indigenous, engaging in a motivational dance,” the parents said in their statement, issued Wednesday. “This was not intended as a derogatory or racist act.”
The parents said they are telling their side of the story after “failed attempts” to come to a resolution with the minor hockey association.
On January 21, hours after the video surfaced online, the association issued a media release saying it was “devastated” by the players’ actions in their “disrespectful” video.
“It is wrong and will not be tolerated. The display of ignorance is sad and gravely unfortunate,” association president Travis Galenzoski said in the statement. “These players will know how deeply impactful their wrong actions are.”
Has everyone lost their damn minds?
This story in particular is peak outrage culture in every sense of the word. There is no way around it. Boys between the ages of 15 to 18, some Indigenous, were dancing to Indigenous music to pump themselves up for a game.
We have seen similar stories in the recent past. This story appears to mirror the Covington Catholic story that also took place earlier this year in a number of ways, in which high school aged kids were blasted online for “mocking” an Indigenous elder.
The media circus that ensued resulted in an onslaught of inaccurate reporting, and the smearing of kids who were actually not really doing anything wrong.
The presumed guilt of young men who were acting like young men. Energetic, unashamed, and even just a bit silly. Young men preparing for their own type of battle and getting themselves into the “zone,” the proper mindset that would be needed before facing opponents on the ice.
One could make an argument that the dances that these boys were doing were actually paying tribute to the proud warrior cultures and rich histories that exist amongst Indigenous groups.
The absolute lack of backbone displayed by the FMMHA, the league in which these boys play, is astounding as well. To cancel the season due to safety concerns is reasonable. To not actively back these young men, who really did not commit any crime yet are facing consequences, is absolutely pathetic.
Public verdict: Racism is alive and well!
One of the boys who claims to be in the video has since come out on Facebook and posted an apology, while also stating that three of the boys in the video are Indigenous themselves.
“I would just like to say I am deeply sorry for the actions we made and to clarify we were not trying to be racist or offending anyone or anything,” he wrote. “This video was us fooling around in the locker room and we weren’t using our heads.”
Congrats, Internet. You have cornered a young man, no older than 18, into apologizing for being “racist” when he was actually just fooling around with his buddies in a locker room before their game. Does that make you feel good about yourself?
Jed Johns, an Indigenous relations consultant, told CTV News that it didn’t matter whether the boys were “indigenous or not.” Jed Johns has not yet responded to requests from The Post Millennial for further comment.
We all live together, and must learn that in a society as ethnically rich as ours, there is going to be a give and take relationship between different groups. We share ideas, clothing, food, culture, song and dance.
Even if all of the boys in this video were white and of European descent, does their song and dance to A Tribe Called Red not actually show mockery, but respect? An admiration for a culture that is different from theirs, an incredibly proud and rich in history?
Yes, they were having fun. Sure, laughter can be heard at some points. But they were singing together, proudly, encapsulating the spirit of the song they listened to, preparing for an important moment in their lives that as a team they will face together.
Along with the fact that there was in fact Indigenous players there, does that not show solidarity? Communion? Understanding? Since when has culture become so segregated?
To live with each other, we must share with each other. This young generation is arguably the least racist that has ever existed. At 15, do you really understand the intricacies and extensive history of race relations and Indigenous struggles in Canada? Probably not. It’s an innocent, fun and inspiring act that should require no apology.
A middle ground
Perhaps the solution can be found somewhere in between. We could look to learn from far away, all the way out in New Zealand.
See, across the island of New Zealand, high-ranking athletes will often perform the Haka, a traditional dance of the indigenous peoples of NZ, the Maori. This dance is performed by athletes of all races in a very tasteful, well-choreographed, way that shows high respect to the Maori people. The New Zealand All Blacks, their most competitive rugby team, is famous for this.
There is perhaps reason to see why people could get upset with these kids. But their intentions were far from malevolent, and in many people’s eyes, a silly way to head into a hockey game by a contemporary band. They are kids, after all.
A tasteful blend of respect, tradition and fun could be what is more appropriate in scenarios like these. Or better yet, kids, remember: The internet can be a very nasty place… Don’t post EVERYTHING that you’re up to. Especially in the locker room.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.