The town of Neepawa is rallying behind the Natives junior hockey team after the hazing incident last fall sparked national headlines.
A committee called “Our Home, Our Team, 23 Years Proud” has been formed by a longtime volunteer and hockey supporter to provide guidance and education to teams, players and coaches in an effort to prevent future hazing.
Kevin Harris spearheaded the initiative, which will raise funds to combat bullying and hazing in the sport of hockey.
“If you focus on the problem, the problem is going to stay,” Harris said. “But if you focus on the solution, that’s how problems are solved. If we show everybody (around the league and in the national media) the community is behind this team again, I think that’s an important thing.”
A week of events around the community have been planned, including the Neepawa Natives and Swan Valley Stampeders game on Friday evening. A family-orientated social will follow.
Other planned events:
- Neepawa Natives players will visit schools in Neepawa, Eden, Brookdale, Carberry throughout the week to play road hockey with students
- Neepawa’s Hazel M. Kellington elementary school will make a bullying/hazing presentation to all students
- New Neepawa Natives coaching staff will visit sponsors and businesses
- “Week Long 50/50” draw will raise funds towards a hazing awareness, education, and prevention fund
Sixteen players and two coaches received suspensions from the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) after a 15-year-old boy was subjected to hazing in a locker room. The team was also fined $5,000. RCMP announced last November that no charges would be laid in the incident.