Our National Embarrassment

If you are Canadian and keep an eye on the news you have, more than likely, heard about Hockey Canada and the fallout after a women filed a $3.5 million lawsuit alleging eight hockey players, some members of the 2018 World Junior hockey team, sexually assaulted her. 

It has also come to light that this is not an isolated incident and gang rape may be prevalent in junior hockey.

I have read in many news articles questioning how could this happen and for how long does this behaviour go back. It goes back a long way and it is very prevalent.

This story has brought up many memories for me when I played on the local junior hockey club. I was a local player playing on a team made up of mostly players imported from other areas of Canada and the United States. 

The players were billeted to families in the area, many who were executives for the hockey team or associated with with the junior hockey team.

Many of the import players were decent young men. However many were not. 

Most of the import players received special treatment from the teachers, community members and, especially, the team executive, managers and coaches.

Hockey was important to the community in the 1980’s. If you want young men to play their best you have to build their confidence. To say they got away with a lot is an understatement.

Because I was local I had friends I grew up with who were not involved in hockey. These were the people I hung around with most often. I didn’t get along with most players on the team. It was said, the only players that disliked me more than the opposition were my own teammates. Which was fine by me.

Hockey parties were arranged regularly, usually at a ‘safe’ house. They were often at a billets or executives house. Non hockey players were not invited. Every now and again one or two would show up and they usually got the shit kicked out of them. There was no shortage of alcohol and drugs and plenty of girls, mostly underage.

I went to enough hockey parties to know what went on. Most of my friends didn’t play hockey so our partying was done in the bush or beside the Columbia River. 

***

This is the way group sex or assault happens:

Two of my good friends in high school; he was a good looking guy, smart in every way, good athlete, but not a hockey player, she was also a great student, pretty and athletic. They were an ideal couple, but, on again off again, like most couples at 16 or 17. She had a crush on one of the hockey players, he was a good looking guy, but a complete asshole. He was scouted  and came here with another two of his buddies from another part of Canada. They were decent hockey players, full of confidence and yappy. 

On one of this couple’s ‘off again’ moments, she went to a hockey party and hooked up with her crush, got drunk, went to a room to spend time with him, before the door closed he invited his two buddies to come in with him.

She was the talk of the dressing room at the next practice.

That is how it happens. And it happened all the time. 

My friends, the couple, withdrew, become close, once graduated they moved away, married and started a life together. They distanced themselves from their hometown and old friends. 

This was the 1980’s. There was no laws covering consent of intoxicated individuals.

***

A couple years after I finished playing junior hockey an incident occurred. Three players of the hockey club, players who were my teammates years earlier, and still played for the team, raped a teenage girl.

They were charged and went to court. One after another, the hockey executive got up, and said what upstanding young men they were. As for the girl, she was drunk, she couldn’t remember everything.  Although she had bite marks on her back and was torn up internally, the young men got off. The male judge ruled that she liked rough sex. My mother, who accompanied the young women to court along with the doctor who examined her were outraged. The young men were exonerated, went on to become respected members of the community, while the girl was labeled a slut.

This happens in Canada because we put these young men on a pedestal. Hockey is our national game. We revere the players and they know it. It excuses some of them from being decent human beings. They get a pass from morality and education from an early age providing they can dangle with the puck or dish it out physically on the ice.

***

What has to happen?

The executive of Hockey Canada has resigned. This is good. Instead of a group who’s job it is to protect or apologize, they should be required to make moral choices regarding all players enrolled in Hockey Canada.

In the past Hockey Canada executive used minor hockey enrolment income to settle sexual abuse claims. They did this because these funds, and use, was unlikely to be questioned, unlike an insurance claim or sponsor donations. The people who made these decisions were rightfully let go.

The next thing that has to happen, and this is a big one, the eight players involved in the alleged rape have to step up, admit that it was them that has given Canadian Hockey a bad name. At least some of these players would be newly minted millionaires playing in the NHL, so this is very unlikely to happen. If they are innocent of any wrong doing they should be chomping at the bit to be exonerated.

Finally, the police or RCMP have to pursue the sexual assault case. Even if the young women was paid $3.5 million for her silence, if a crime was committed it must be investigated.

***

I took my young grandchildren to the rink this morning to play hockey. It is a wonderful game, one you can play from the time you can walk to the time you can’t walk. It is special, filled with emotion, thrills and letdowns. My son, when he was small, used to sleep in his hockey equipment after his practices. The game means a great deal to our family.

But if you didn’t know the game, like many parents, or like newly immigrated parents why would you ever want your children to become involved in hockey?

If we want to continue to be proud of our national game. If we want it to be inclusive to all Canadians, new and old, male and female, It is essential we rebuild its reputation.

Morning Creek

Lisa and I headed up the creek with Lola and Willow. It was chilly with frost on the windows. It would have suited me to go towards the sun on the west side, instead we went east where the mountains get bigger, taking the sun longer to rise.

Not much water in the creek up high, plenty of rose hips and cones on the spruce, the winter birds will take advantage.

Lola stayed on leash because she is a puppy and we haven’t quite have her figured. If she went after something I don’t trust my ability to chase her down.

We watched the sun rise through the low spots in the mountains, lighting the shadows and turning the trees colour.

Deep Fall

All the up and down, older its harder to keep track. Been told things are good and bad. Haven’t been able to tell the difference. Now older, I don’t care as much. It’s hell on the writing and photo taking, also making love suffers. Is it age, no longer have the want to fight like in the old days. Lovemaking and fighting, nobody can tell me they aren’t connected.

Still, if truth be known, it’s good not to be a slave to fighting and sex. Cripes, before long I’ll be sitting to pee. Drinking lite beer. Less calories and low alcohol. I’ll start birdwatching, not unusual, but will go out with the group. Start wearing a sweater in the fall regardless that it’s still goddamn hot. Start limping to let everyone know my advanced age. Swear off whisky. Refuse spicy stuff because, ‘it will keep me up at night’. Take my boots off every time I enter the house. Keep the slippers beside the door. Wash my dentures every night. Religiously, brush my remaining teeth. Teach the hounds English instead of learning dog. Pull out the flowers before they go to seed, saying, ‘I’ll never smoke all that shit.’

It doesn’t sound good but old age does have its advantages.

Thanksgiving Hike

Bree, Tiara, Hunter with Ash and Pedley.

Hunter organized a fantastic fall hike up Pedley Pass. We started out early and were on the trail by 8:30. Bree, Hunter, Tiara, Bree’s Dad Dave, Mike, Dave and me cut through the bush to Bumpy Meadows and then higher to the crossroads. We were accompanied by the good dogs Willow, Ash and Pedley damned and determined to explore her namesake.

Dad Dave bathing in the mornings first sliver of light.

We choose to cut across to the small lake instead of the ridge. Our pace was good and the sun was still down at 11:00 at the lake. After a bite to eat we had some time to explore and take some photos.

Tiara and Hunter exploring the rocks.

Dad Dave and Mike shot the shit at the lake. Bree walked Pedley around the lake, Hunter and Tiara headed for higher ground through the rocks and Dave and I looked for fossils.

Dave cracking shale to reveal a small sea creature.

We all gave thanks for family, good friends, health and the wonderful natural vistas that met us at every bend on the trail. I can think of no better way to spend a weekend. 

Beautiful Bree running Pedley along the trail.

Very fine day.

Mike, a man who makes everyone feel special, while having kicked the ass of cancer in his spare time.

Welsh Lakes

A contrast of colours.

Absolutely brilliant weather. Blue skies; warm temperatures in the day, around freezing at night. The garden is still waiting for some hard frosts to sweeten the turnips and cabbage.

Dave, Jack and Matt before sunrise.

Knowing it can’t last I booked a day off for a hike. The idea was to take a coworker from the United Kingdom out, so he could see some Canadian high country. I always feel a little sorry for the kids who come and work at the resort from other parts of Canada or overseas. The area is sold to them as scenic, but unless they have a vehicle they are not able to leave the valley bottom.

Accompanied by good friends Dave and Matt, we picked up UK Jack at 6:30 am and we were off for Forster Creek. A leisurely drive and we were at the trailhead and hiking by daylight.

UK Jack from a lookout above the bottom lake. He has promised me this photo will make it back to his parents in England.

Jack is a tremendous worker at the resort. He works hard and never complains. He is very personable, in my experience, like all the workers we have had from the UK. 

The hike up was great through the forest, along Welsh Creek, picking through the moraine to the first lake. The entire area at one time covered by glaciers. I always imagine what it looked like back in time. Now the remaining glaciers are on the highest points of the mountains.

Only a small part of a remaining glacier. The rocks below show where the glacier once occupied churning and breaking the mountain rock.

This is the latest I’ve hiked Welsh. The mountains which show snow in summer is completely gone revealing how small the remaining glaciers have become. The wonderful day we were enjoying, even blessed with, is partially responsible. If the length of warm weather swapped with the cold those glaciers would grow back in no time. Perhaps it will happen sometime filling those empty basins above and below the lakes, keeping ice on the lakes year round, until their blue water freezes straight to the bottom.

Once at the first lake it was decided before I barely had my camera out that we would head up to the highest lake. Matt quickly found a route and we were off. Another hour, after a scramble, we were having lunch at Aberystwyth Lake. Jack was able to tell us the proper Welsh pronunciation, although, he didn’t know the meaning saying, he didn’t speak Welsh.

Iphone photo on the hike down, didn’t have time to grab the Nikon.

The way back down was trying as we took another route through the talus that required me to carry Willow. I cradle her in my outside arm allowing me to fall into the mountain if I lost my footing. Willow is an amazing little dog but has trouble with big loose boulders that move. By the time I was down to the first lake I was sucking hind tit and my arm was aching. We did it right with our spacing, however, not rolling boulders onto each other. 

Upper Welsh from Aberystwyth Lake.

The sun was directly above, lighting the turning tamaracks. It’s a perfect world when the gold is opposite the blue green mountain lakes. That was the last I had my camera out as we were heading down. I thought we must be late for something.

Dave, in shape at the ripe age of 63, my good friend who’s intelligence always knocks me off my horse if I ain’t paying attention.

I’m getting old and hiking with three men, in shape, with a combined body fat percentage about 10% of mine can be trying. Still I did my best. Matt kept me company, knowing you never leave the weakest behind. Cripes that pissed me off. 

Matt. A true mountain man.

There aren’t many days like this. Very fine walk.

Winter Stars

Starting from the top; Cassiopeia, Andromeda, The Andromeda Galaxy, Perseus and its two star clusters, also Pleiades, Taurus and Mars just coming over the mountain Ridge.

To look at the stars is to be amazed. In this day and age we know the science of astronomy. We know distances and the difference between planets and stars. You can steer a ship, plant a garden and set our calendar by them. If we have something in common with every generation going back to the beginning of man it is the stars. To look at the stars among the trees and mountains on a dark night, to feel those pin pricks of light flow through, as they have done and will continue, is to feel lucky.

Sunday satire

The winter stars are up early. The flowers are still out in October. Once it turns it’s going to turn hard. The turnips and cabbage could use some frost. The garlic has to be planted two weeks before frost is in the ground. That’s a tuff thing to predict in this climate

Speaking of climate change, I don’t believe in it. Let me clarify, the climate may be changing, but humans don’t have anything to do with it. I know I’m starting to sound like one of those right wing nuts where everything is a conspiracy and oil is god.

Here is my reasoning; if we were really concerned that global warming was caused by humans, wouldn’t we be trying to do something about it?

All I see is companies trying to get us to switch to electric cars, and wind and solar energy. Meanwhile we keep building second homes, buying jet boats, getting in jet planes and exploring every inch of the earth. If we gave a shit, if things were as dire as they say, we wouldn’t be doing all that. Even the rich would be, putting their greed aside, thinking about their kids and the world they are leaving behind.

I think the climate crisis is just a plot to scare us shitless, sell us electric cars and more crap we don’t need.

That’s what I figure.

memory walk

Brilliant Jupiter hangs in the west.

A quiet morning walk. Orion is up. Mars is red between the red giants Aldebaran and Betelgeuse. To set your eyes on them is to get your bearings. To realize the biggest and fastest is only because it’s closest. An optical illusion.

Orion, Taurus, Pleiades, Mars and four satellites.

The cemetery is dark. I know my way around. The tourists still haven’t blocked Mom and Dad’s view. They used to dig the graves here, a chore given to them by my Grandfather, for extra money after the war. They will be the last of us buried here. Lake view even for the dead has skyrocketed.

It’s an easy walk under the stars.

Starlings

Summer is about to shut the door. I’ll miss the women in shorts, it was worth the long way home, down main by the tourist shops.

Still, the coolness is a gentle salve. Much more important at my age.

winding down

Brandywine, Chocalate Cherry, Sweet 100 and Black Krim.

The garden is on its last legs. It’s a good time of year when you can go out and grab supper; broccoli, spuds, kale, beets, carrots, and plenty of tomatoes.

We have yet to have frost so the tomatoes are outdoing themselves. Plenty of ripe ones. They need picking everyday. Lisa and Scarlett took a bunch down to the old folks home yesterday, something our kids did regularly when the garden produced more than it does now.

Life is good when you have home grown tomato salad for every meal.

A dragonfly testing the poppies.