Goalie who was victim of racial slur gets support from NHL player, government
'I told him he was a very brave young man to do what he did,' says Chicago Blackhawks forward Anthony Duclair
The Nova Scotia government invited a black hockey player who was recently the victim of a racial slur to Province House to let him know he belongs.
Mark Connors, a 12-year-old Halifax peewee goaltender, was called the N-word during a hockey game in Tantallon last month.
"For me it's all about ensuring that young people are feeling comfortable and making sure that they have the opportunity to enjoy their sport like everyone else," said Tony Ince, the minister for African Nova Scotian Affairs.
Mark was introduced at the Nova Scotia Legislature Tuesday afternoon. The minister also hoped to have a private discussion with his family.
Mark said he was surprised to get his Province House invite.
"It makes me feel happy and welcomed," he said.
Mark said he has had racial slurs hurled at him several times in the six years he has played minor hockey.
His family is overwhelmed with the response they have received, from former coaches to people they don't even know, since CBC's story last week.
"A lot of people still just can't believe this is happening in this day and age," said Mark's father, Wayne Connors. "It's unfortunate because this shouldn't happen."
One person who has connected with Mark is Chicago Blackhawks forward Anthony Duclair.
Duclair, who is black, grew up in Montreal and said news of a young player receiving racist insults took him back to when he was a young player and facing discrimination.
After reading about it last week, Duclair gave Mark a call at home.
"I just told him that he does belong," said Duclair. "He can do whatever he wants in this world."
Mark came forward after a game on March 3 and told his coaches what happened on the ice after he stopped an opponent on a breakaway.
"I told him he was a very brave young man to do what he did," said Duclair. "I know it isn't always easy to come out against that stuff. I know when it happened to me I just kept it to myself."
Mark said he was thrilled to get the call from Duclair.
"I think it's going to help me get over things a little better," he said.
Following a Hockey Nova Scotia investigation, the player who delivered the racist comment was issued a 45-day suspension that will kick in next season.