Sexual assault training program for Ontario hockey teams to restart after a pandemic pause

Source: CBC News

The Ontario Hockey League’s ONSIDE program, which provides players with training about sexual harassment and assault, returns this fall.

The organization said that the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) ONSIDE initiative, which aims to educate and increase awareness among players of sexual misconduct, will resume operations this fall following a hiatus caused by pandemic restrictions.

After the 2020 season was cancelled and 2021 restrictions were put in place, the program has not run since 2019.
The resumption of the ONSIDE program follows as several ice hockey organizations in Canada are being investigated for their lack of transparency on the subject of sexual assault in the industry.

The Kitchener Rangers and Hamilton Bulldogs did not do the COVID-19 training in the past two years, because the teams felt the players had already done it.

The Bulldogs’ yearly assault workshop is taught by the Sexual Assault Centre of Hamilton (SACHA).

In the past 2 years due to COVID-19 restrictions, the OHL has not pushed for teams to participate in the ONSIDE program.

In May of this year, Hockey Canada responded to allegations of a woman who was sexually assaulted by eight world junior players at a gala event in 2018. Furthermore, in June, it was revealed that there had been 21 other sexual assault settlements since 1989 amounting to almost $9 million.

On July 25, Hockey Canada issued an action plan to change hockey culture. The plan is to improve their masculinity consent and toxic behavior training and improve their character screening for players.

The OHL has required training to protect against sexual assault since 2016, when the OHL ONSIDE program began. The program is a two-hour course taught to players, coaches and leadership.

The OHL vice president Ted Baker said the ONSIDE program teaches players how to be leaders against sexual violence, and how to be a bystander intervention. It also asks players what it looks like to be in a leadership position against sexual assault.

Baker said the OHL is in talks with the Sexual Assault Centre of Waterloo Region about returning to the program this season. He also said that each team is paired up with a local Ontario sexual assault center to help them with sexual assault prevention training.

The Bulldogs will continue to participate in the SACHA program and the BMTB program through Interval House, and both will resume this year.

Interval House and the Bulldogs players give a locker-room presentation on relationships to children aged 11 and up. After the presentation, the Bulldogs practise with the kids.

The Hamilton Bulldogs have started a program called BMTB, which teaches young players about healthy masculinity. SACHA’s executive director, Jessica Bonilla-Damptey said the program is a good start, but more needs to be done OHL ONSIDE sexual assault training program 

If you have experienced sexual assault or harassment contact our lawyers at Equilibrium Law. We can help you hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.

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