Nearly a quarter-century ago, Robinson published her book, Crossing the Line: Violence and Sexual Assault in Canada’s National Game. Largely ignored after its release in 1998, the book details allegations of decades of abuse, violent hazing rituals, and sexual assaults within the sphere of hockey, but the public wasn’t forced to confront the dark underbelly of the country’s national pastime until this spring. In May, reports surfaced the sport’s national governing body, Hockey Canada, settled a civil suit out of court, which claimed members of the 2018 Canadian world junior team were allegedly involved in a group sexual assault of a young woman in London, Ont.
As the public reeled over further fallout after the Globe & Mail reported the lawsuit was paid for using a slush fund made up of minor hockey registration fees, another story surfaced days later of the 2003 edition of Team Canada at the world juniors in Halifax where a number of players were allegedly seen on a video tape assaulting an unconscious woman.
In both instances, no criminal charges have been laid or tested in criminal court.
No players have faced any consequences, legal or otherwise, so far for either alleged incident, but Robinson says that’s standard in junior hockey, where adults are in complete control of their young charges’ lives.
Called onto the carpet by the federal government, a number of Hockey Canada execs appeared at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage last month. During the hearings, several Members of Parliament called on the brass at Hockey Canada to resign. So far, only chairman of the board Michael Brind’Amour has done so. He was replaced on Tuesday by interim chair, Markham, Ont., native, Andrea Skinner. In a statement, Skinner said, “As a Board we are listening to Canadians. We are working to make meaningful positive changes to the culture of the sport of hockey.” (Skinner joined Hockey Canada in 2020, after a new mandate required at least two women on the board.)
“Of course not. Who gets all the ice time at that arena? Who are the gods in all the CHL towns? They’re those guys. You could go to a seminar every week if you wanted to, but what your culture tells you is ‘you matter and girls don’t.’”
A former multi-sport athlete and coach in cycling and cross-country skiing, Robinson said going forward, she’d like to see a national inquiry into what she calls a “crisis” in Canadian sport.
“We have to have a comeuppance on what has been allowed to happen in Canadian sport for all of these decades. And hockey is the worst one, but there are many sports that need to answer to athletes, and to Canadians,” Robinson ..