PEI

P.E.I. MLA calls for provincial commissioner to deal with racial abuse cases

A Prince Edward Island MLA wants the province to have an independent commissioner to deal with issues around systemic racism. Last week, a U-18 hockey player said he faced racial abuse while playing in Charlottetown. Hockey P.E.I. launched a third-party investigation into that case.

'Not knowing where you fit in is a difficult piece in life'

Independent commissioner on systemic racism suggested for P.E.I.

5 months ago
Duration 6:20
Liberal MLA Gord McNeilly speaks with CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin about his idea, following a racist incident reported at a recent P.E.I. hockey game.

A Prince Edward Island MLA wants the province to have an independent commissioner to deal with issues around systemic racism.

Last week, a U-18 hockey player said he faced racial abuse while playing in Charlottetown. Hockey P.E.I. launched a third-party investigation into that case.

LIberal MLA Gord McNeilly said P.E.I. needs to have an independent commissioner that can handle such issues.

"There was nobody in Prince Edward Island that looked at this right away," McNeilly told Louise Martin during an interview for CBC News: Compass.

"A commissioner could look at this, have a place for people to file and lodge complaints, but also be there to educate and talk to teams and potentially do diversity training." 

A provincial commissioner would further help achieve the goals of groups representing Black, Indigenous and people of colour on P.E.I., McNeilly said.

"It would solve a lot of issues and be able to take us one step closer to making sure we combat racism in Prince Edward Island." 

A 'constructive approach' 

McNeilly sent a statement to Premier Dennis King's office, asking for the province to appoint an independent commissioner to deal with racism on the Island.

"That [Mark Connor's] incident shook me up and I wanted to talk to people and let the voices of the people I talked to be heard, and that's what I'm trying to do with my statement," he said.

"It's been a rough couple of weeks because I've been in a similar situation and it's been difficult and I wanted to take my time with it."

The statement to the premier is a "constructive approach" to the issue, McNeilly said.

"I look forward to having those conversations and we need better leadership on this file."

McNeilly said his "heart went out" to Connors and he is sorry he faced racial abuse on the Island. 

"Just seeing that picture of Mark and looking into his eyes, he didn't deserve that, he doesn't deserve to feel that way. He is too young." 

Mark Connors, a goaltender with the Halifax Hawks, says he was the target of racial slurs at a hockey tournament played in P.E.I. (Wayne Connors)

Most BIPOC Islanders were not surprised by Connors's experience, McNeilly said. It reminds them of similar situations they've faced.

"All that stuff comes flooding back and it's difficult and it's painful. Not knowing where you fit in is a difficult piece in life."

Combating racism on P.E.I. starts with education in homes, McNeilly said. 

"We need to have a lot of Islanders talking about this and through conversation with different people that do not look like you."

Diversity will make P.E.I a "driving force" in the future, and inclusion goes along with that, McNeilly said. 

"Most of the people I talk to feel that way, and they want to be a part of the solution," he said.

With files from CBC News: Compass

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