The father of a top-flight Ottawa minor hockey player is calling for harsher penalties for racism on the ice after his son was targeted in a game Sept. 20.
Nick Ngwafusi, 15, was the subject of a racial slur in a game against the Ottawa Valley Titans when another player called out to him and yelled the N-word at the young black teen. Tears started to flow in frustration as he skated off the ice.
"I never bounced back fully," said Ngwafusi, sitting near a series of medals and trophies that are showcased inside his family home.
It was not the first time the teen had been the focus of racism while playing hockey. The incident struck a chord with his father who was in the stands.
"I was angry, not at the incident but the aftermath," said Godlove Ngwafusi, who said the punishment handed out was not enough.
"It's a good start, but things have to change," he said.
The other player had to write a formal apology to the league and apologize to Ngwafusi. He was also suspended for one game and has been assigned to sensitivity training.
Past punishment has not stopped racism
Nick agreed with his father, believing fellow players need to learn better respect.
'All they've done is shake my hand and say they're sorry.…I've heard that three times. It's not enough.' —Nick Ngwafusi
The boy currently plays defence for the Ottawa Jr. 67’s AAA Minor Midget team and has been drafted by a Junior A hockey team in Ontario.
"They've got to clamp down. This is the fourth time it's happened in four or five years. I haven't seen anyone give me an apology letter," said Nick.
"All they've done is shake my hand and say they're sorry. It's out of frustration. I've heard that three times. It's not enough."
NHL incidents followed
This incident happened days before two similar incidents involving NHL forward Wayne Simmonds, who is black, as well.
Simmonds had a banana thrown his way as he was about to take a shot during a shootout Sept. 22 in a pre-season game against the Detroit Red Wings in London, Ont. The fan who allegedly tossed the banana has since been charged.
Four days later, Simmonds was accused of uttering a homophobic slur at New York Rangers forward and agitator Sean Avery during a scuffle.
The NHL has seen incidents such as these over the past few years, but not many. The Ottawa District Minor Hockey Association said racist incidents are rare, but the Ngwafusi family argued it is only because there are few minorities playing minor hockey.
Godlove Ngwafusi said he wants parents and the league to work to eliminate racism in hockey.