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Scotiabank pauses sponsorship with Hockey Canada

Hockey Canada’s handling of an alleged sexual assault is again under fire as one of its highest profile sponsors, Scotiabank, announces they’re pausing their sponsorship with the Canadian hockey organization.

The financial institution took out a full-page in Tuesday’s Globe and Mail, with Scotiabank president and CEO Brian J. Porter writing, "Like so many of you, I was appalled by the recent reports of alleged assault involving younger ambassadors of Canada's game."

"We believe we have a responsibility as hockey lovers and sponsors to contribute to positive change in the sport.”

Scotiabank says they’re pausing their partnership with Hockey Canada until they’re “confident the right steps are being taken to improve the culture of the sport.”

Scotiabank is cancelling their planned marketing and events at the upcoming World Junior Championship in Edmonton this August. Instead, redirecting some of their sponsorship funds to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, a charity that supports women who are the victims of gender-based violence.

In April, a lawsuit was filed by an unnamed woman who alleges she was repeatedly sexually assaulted in a London, Ont., hotel room following a Hockey Canada tournament and gala.

Her lawsuit alleges some of her attackers were members of Canada’s 2018 World Junior gold-medal winning team. The allegations against the unnamed players haven’t been proven in court. The lawsuit has been settled for an undisclosed amount of money, and a non-disclosure agreement has been signed.

Sexual assault survivor and former NHL player, Sheldon Kennedy, believes hockey Canada needs to provide more transparency and that begins with ripping up the non-disclosure agreement.

“The last thing we need to do is freeze voices, people that have been abused in anyway shape or form have had their voices frozen from the time the abuse started, so I don’t think we should be using NDA’s to keep freezing a victims voice if they choose to speak,” Kennedy tells CTV News.

Hockey Canada’s president has gone on record admitting that players who attended the event in London weren’t required to participate in the associations third-party investigation.

In response, Scotiabank's CEO stated, “the time for change is long overdue.”

“We call on Hockey Canada to move with a sense of urgency in order to ensure that the game we love is held to the highest standards and can truly be hockey for all.”

Journalist Laura Robinson began investigating sexual assault culture in junior hockey in the 1990s. She calls the language used by Scotiabank precedent setting, telling CTV News, “I think this is the first time we’ve seen something like this. I don’t recall a corporate sponsor pulling out of such a major (sport). You can’t get bigger than hockey in Canada.”

Robinson believes Hockey Canada is more interested in shielding the organization than potential victims of sexual assault.

“It’s a deeply embedded cultural issue and I don’t think they’re interested in really examining what it is about hockey that produces such violent sexual acts.”

Hockey Canada declined CTV News’ request for an on-camera interview Tuesday, instead sending a statement saying, “Hockey Canada is on a journey to change the culture of our sport and to make it safer and more inclusive, both at the rink and in our communities. We have been on this journey for some time, but we agree that more needs to be done, and more quickly.”

Kennedy says the future of the sport is on the line.

“What’s at stake in my opinion is healthy communities, heathy kids and healthy families. If we keep seeing headlines of sexual abuse happening here, cover-up happening there, who’s going to sign their kids up? We’re already seeing the downfall of not making these issues the number one priority in an organization. If we want to grow the game, if we want sport to be for everyone, these issues have to be number one."

Scotiabank says they’re pausing their partnership with Hockey Canada until they’re “confident the right steps are being taken to improve the culture of the sport.”

Robinson says change needs to finally start from the bottom up.

“Hockey is such a beautiful sport that we really need to look very carefully how this culture has been created and do some really huge changes.” Top Stories

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