In London, Ont., site of alleged sex assault, Hockey Canada's reopening of 2018 case is welcome news

People in London, Ont., welcome news that Hockey Canada will reopen its investigation into an alleged sexual assault in 2018. The federation quietly settled a lawsuit in May, prompting Ottawa to freeze its funding, after a woman claimed she was assaulted in London by members of the gold-medal winning junior team.

Federation will reopen investigation involving gold-winning world junior team after Ottawa froze funding

Some interests in London are reacting to Hockey Canada's announcement Thursday it will reinvestigate an alleged sexual assault in 2018, said to have happened at a function in the Ontario city, in a case involving some members of Canada's gold-medal winning world junior team. (Albert Leung/CBC)

People in London are welcoming news Thursday that Hockey Canada, the sport's national federation, is reopening its investigation into an alleged sexual assault in the southwestern Ontario city in 2018.

Hockey Canada had quietly settled a lawsuit in May, prompting Ottawa to freeze its funding, after a woman claimed she was assaulted in London that June, at a gala and golf function, by some members of Canada's 2018 gold-medal winning world junior hockey team.

"I think for me, looking at this whole situation, someone has to step up," said Trevor Gallant, owner of TAG Hockey, an organization that offers training for youth in the London area.

He believes Hockey Canada is "taking the right steps." 

"Maybe they mishandled it a bit at the beginning, but reopening it tells me that, hey, you know, it's a positive step," said Gallant, a former Ontario Hockey League player. 

In June, federal Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge announced the organization's access to public funds had been put on hold over its response to the alleged sexual assault and subsequent out-of-court settlement.

In an open letter published Thursday, the federation made a series of announcements to Canadians, including that it is reopening the third-party investigation into the alleged sexual assault. 

Hockey Canada said the players in question must participate in the investigation, and anyone who declines would immediately be banned from all federation activities and programs. Previously, the organization had said it "strongly encouraged" players take part in the investigation into the alleged incident, which was said to have occurred at a Hockey Canada function.

"Nothing can fix what happened a hundred per cent," said Gallant. "But the fact that reopening and investigating, and looking at what went wrong and how can they make it better, is really what hockey's all about.

"Nothing is perfect in the world and things are going to happen," he added. "It's how we react from those that are going to really set the tone for the future of the game, and help people understand what is right and wrong and what's going to be expected of a young athlete and all that."

The 'right call' 

Anna Lise Trudell is a manager with London-based Anova, which provides shelter, counselling and other services to people affected by gender-based violence. 

She said while Hockey Canada deciding to reinvestigate the alleged sexual assault was the "right call," it only happened after the organization faced financial and public pressure. 

"They've had a rude awakening through lots of public pressure around this and hopefully a real shaking within the organization that this is no longer acceptable behaviour, that the prioritizing of sexual violence prevention, and holding players accountable and all transparency is what we expect now in this society."

The complainant in the 2018 sex assault case will be helping in the Hockey Canada reinvestigation, her lawyer confirmed in an email statement to CBC News. 

With files from Katie Nicholson, The Canadian Press