'You're different from them': Stories of racial discrimination in Saskatchewan

Mike Dubois tells the story of his all-Indigenous hockey team being the subject of racist terms and actions at a hockey game in a small Saskatchewan town. This story is a part of the Morning Edition's week long series about discrimination in Saskatchewan.

Mike Dubois is a member of the Muscowpetung First Nation

Mike Dubois played hockey growing up and entered a seniors league with an all-Indigenous roster. When his team visited one small town and took an early lead in the game, he says the home team wasn't shy about racial discrimination. (Brad Bellegarde/CBC News)

Hockey in Saskatchewan is like snow in winter: Everyone sees it regardless if they like it or not. Small town teams load up equipment in trucks, vans, buses or the family vehicle and set out on the highway to hit the ice in the neighbouring town's arena.

For Regina resident Mike Dubois, who is from the Muscowpetung First Nation, hockey was always a part of life.

So, Dubois is used to travelling to different towns for games. What he didn't expect was his first experience with racial discrimination in hockey to happen like it did.

He played on an all-Indigenous team.

One team they competed against "started doing the bow and arrow stuff, calling us neechies and squaws. It's a real first experience and shock when that happens to you, especially when you're playing an all-white team called the Warriors and they're trying to be discriminative to a First Nations hockey team. It's just ridiculous."

You're different from them. You're not that kind of Indian.- Mike Dubois

Dubois' experiences with discrimination extended outside of hockey. He said, growing up, he stood out because of his braids.

He said he was called a "dirty Indian" or a "girl."

And when other Indigenous people were made fun of in his presence, the people commenting would tell Dubois: "You're different from them. You're not that kind of Indian. You're a good one."

Dubois said his son also has braids and thinks it's "a little" more accepted today.

The increased Indigenous content in school helps but, unfortunately, his son is still subject to what Dubois calls "accidental discrimination because kids really don't understand what they're saying ... especially when we have cultures that are new to Canada and assume that's what status quo is."

*Brad Bellegarde reports for CBC Saskatchewan. This week, CBC Radio's Morning Edition shared stories of discrimination from Saskatchewan residents.