Black Ice: testimonies of discrimination in yet another sport

Former Montreal Canadien Georges Laraque at the Monreal premiere. Photo by Amru Salahuddien

The Montreal premiere of Hubert Davis’ Black History documentary took place in Concordia’s Hall building on the evening of Feb. 13

“Talk to anybody of colour that tried to make it playing hockey up there, listen to the stories they had. It would be like, ‘Dude, were you in Alabama? No, I was in Manitoba,’ said comedian Bill Burr during an interview with Conan O’Brien on TBS. 

The clip kicked off what seemed like an endless series of videos and news reports of soul-crushing acts of racial atrocities: social media posts, videos of fans, and players spewing slurs and pantomiming acts of hate, all without any repercussions. In his new documentary, Hubert Davis underscores that BIPOC have seldom been accepted in the sport dominated by white people. 

Black Ice covers the Black history of hockey, and how Black players’ relationships and experiences with the sport have forever been bitter.

From the immigrants escaping slavery through the underground railroad to young children presently learning how to take their first strides on the ice, Davis covered the wide-spanning history of racial intolerance from the perspective of the harmed. For decades, ignorance and intolerance have been commonplace in locker rooms, from youth house leagues all the way to the NHL.

More importantly, the documentary focuses on current trailblazers who aim to make hockey a more inclusive sport, once and for all. These important members of the community have made waves by spreading awareness and encouraging BIPOC children to pursue their love of the game, all while educating and supporting them through the challenges they face.

Many beloved names from the hockey community spoke on their experiences with hate, such as producer P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds, Sarah Nurse, and Matt Dumba. The latter was awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2020, which recognizes exemplary leadership qualities and contribution to the community. Dumba is also a member of the Hockey Diversity Alliance. 

Black Ice speaks about many historical figures and events such as the Coloured Hockey League, which was founded in Nova Scotia in 1895, and where the slap shot was pioneered. The greatest Black player to never play in the NHL, Herb Carnegie, was also featured in the documentary. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame a whole 68 years after his retirement, and 10 years posthumously. He turned down the New York Rangers’ low-ball salary offer, only after Toronto Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe announced that he’ll give $10,000 to anyone who can turn him white.

After the screening, a Q&A panel was held including former Montreal Canadiens Georges Laraque, Frantzi Joseph (father of NHL players Mathieu and Pierre-Oliver Joseph), and thirteen-year-old aspiring hockey player Keisha. The three discussed their own experiences, setting an even more intimate tone to the evening.

Black Ice is available to stream on Crave, and aired on TSN.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts