Decolonize Hockey

Hockey has long been considered Canada’s national sport, deeply ingrained in the country’s cultural fabric. However, the history and continued existence of the sport have been marred by the exclusion of Indigenous peoples and the erasure of their contributions. There has been a growing call to ‘decolonize’ hockey in recent years, addressing the systemic racism that plagues the sport and promoting inclusivity for Indigenous players and fans. The movement, spearheaded by both Indigenous and settler hockey players and fans, seeks to help reclaim Indigenous identity in hockey and foster an environment where everyone feels welcome.

Addressing Racism in Hockey

Racism in hockey has been pervasive throughout the sport’s history. Indigenous players have often faced discrimination on and off the ice, with instances of racial slurs and harmful stereotypes being perpetuated. Furthermore, the lack of representation of Indigenous players in professional leagues contributes to the marginalization of their communities. The decolonization movement aims to create a more inclusive space for Indigenous athletes by addressing these issues.

Reclaiming Indigenous Contributions to Hockey

Indigenous communities have contributed significantly to the development and popularization of hockey. Early versions of the game were played by the Mi’kmaq and other First Nations in Canada long before European settlers arrived. However, the sport’s history has been predominantly shaped by colonial narratives that exclude Indigenous voices. To decolonize hockey, it is essential to acknowledge and celebrate these early contributions.

Promoting Cultural Awareness and Anti-Racist Education in Hockey

Education is a crucial element in the decolonization process. By raising awareness about the Indigenous roots of hockey and their ongoing contributions to the sport, the movement hopes to challenge the dominant colonial narrative. This can be achieved through educational initiatives, such as workshops and seminars, aimed at increasing knowledge and understanding of Indigenous cultures, histories, and experiences in hockey.

Supporting Indigenous Representation and Leadership in Hockey

The decolonization movement also emphasizes the importance of increasing Indigenous representation at all levels of the sport, from players and coaches to executives and decision-makers. By promoting Indigenous voices in positions of leadership, the sport can better address the needs and concerns of Indigenous communities.

Creating Safe and Inclusive Spaces in Hockey and all Sports

Decolonizing hockey involves creating environments where Indigenous players and fans feel safe and welcome. This includes addressing instances of racism, promoting cultural understanding, and celebrating the diversity of Indigenous cultures within the hockey community. Additionally, the movement aims to ensure that arenas and other hockey-related spaces are inclusive and respectful of Indigenous traditions and customs.

Decolonize Hockey

The decolonization of hockey is necessary to foster inclusivity and celebrate the diverse histories and cultures that have shaped the sport. By addressing systemic racism, reclaiming Indigenous contributions, and promoting education and representation, the movement seeks to create a more equitable and inclusive future for hockey in Canada and beyond.


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  4. Robidoux, M. (2012). “Playing for Change: Reimagining Sport and the Canadian Indigenous Body.” In J. Forsyth & A. Giles (Eds.), Aboriginal Peoples and Sport in Canada: Historical Foundations and Contemporary Issues (pp. 207-230). UBC Press.
  5. Mason, C., & Koehli, J. (2016). “We Matter: Aboriginal Youth in Canada’s Colonial Context and the Potential Role of Sport for Social Change.” In R. Spaaij, J. Magee, & R. Jeanes (Eds.), Sport and Social Exclusion in Global Society (pp. 87-102). Routledge.
  6. Paraschak, V. (2013). “Sport and Reconciliation: Exploring Contributions from Canadian Sport Stories.” Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 37(4), 346-366. doi: 10.1177/0193723512466281

Whitecloud: ESPN Sportscaster’s Mockery Sheds Light on Legacy of Indigenous Racism in Hockey

The recent incident involving Manitoba NHL player Zach Whitecloud, in which an American sportscaster mocked his name, serves as a stark reminder of the historical connection between hockey and the colonization and assimilation of Indigenous peoples into mainstream Canadian culture. For many, the sportscaster’s insensitive remark reflects a long-standing legacy of racism towards Indigenous cultures that has persisted within the sport of hockey.

Whitecloud Incident Sheds Light on Legacy of Indigenous Racism in Hockey

Sports, like hockey, have been historically used as tools to suppress Indigenous cultures and assimilate Indigenous peoples into dominant society. This approach was particularly evident in residential schools, government-sponsored religious institutions established in the 19th century. In these schools, sports were often utilized as a means to “civilize” Indigenous children, instilling Euro-Canadian values and alienating them from their own cultural practices.

Hockey, in particular, was employed to assimilate Indigenous children and encourage conformity to the dominant society’s norms. The sport was seen as a means to instill discipline, teamwork, and loyalty to a new cultural identity, effectively stripping Indigenous children of their heritage, language, and spiritual beliefs, and replacing them with Euro-Canadian values.

In light of this historical context, the sportscaster’s comment on Whitecloud’s name can be seen as an attempt to diminish his heritage as a member of the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation.

However, rather than ignoring the incident, Whitecloud seized the opportunity to educate the sportscaster on the importance of understanding and respecting diverse backgrounds.

During a scrum with reporters, Whitecloud expressed his pride in his culture, upbringing, and the legacy his grandfather’s last name carries, while also emphasizing his desire for the controversy to serve as a learning experience to prevent similar incidents in the future.

In response to the incident, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs issued a statement emphasizing the sacredness of First Nations names and the legacy of ancestors. Grand Chief Cathy Merrick expressed disappointment over the incident and called on ESPN and the NHL to address racism within the sport more effectively.

The Struggle for Indigenous Representation and Respect in Hockey

The Maliotenam junior hockey team of the Sept-Isle Indian Residential School, Quebec. (Truth and Reconciliation Commission)

Whitecloud: ESPN Sportscaster's Mockery Sheds Light on Legacy of Indigenous Racism in Hockey

The incident involving Zach Whitecloud underlines the ongoing struggle for Indigenous representation and respect within sports like hockey, which have historically been used as vehicles for colonization and assimilation.

As the landscape of hockey transforms, embracing a more inclusive environment, it is imperative to acknowledge and confront the ongoing struggle for Indigenous representation and comprehension in hockey and other sports historically employed as instruments of colonization and cultural assimilation. A wider discourse is necessary to explore the urgency of extricating hockey from its colonial roots.

By fostering greater awareness and education about Indigenous cultures, we can work towards dismantling the lingering colonial legacy in hockey, and sports, to build towards a more inclusive and respectful cultural landscape on Turtle Island, and across the globe.

How The UFC is Colonial

As the UFC’s influence in Africa and the Global South continues to expand, the intricate ties between colonialism, combat sports, and mixed martial arts have come to the forefront.

The “Rumble in the Jungle,” was a historic boxing match between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali, took place on October 30, 1974, in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). While the event itself was not inherently colonial, it is impossible to overlook the colonial connections and implications that arose from its historical and political context.

Zaire’s tumultuous colonial past, having been under Belgian rule before achieving independence in 1960, still cast its shadow over the nation during the 1970s. Lingering social, political, and economic issues served as a constant reminder of the colonial legacy.

Mobutu Sese Seko, Zaire’s dictator at the time, recognized the potential of hosting such a high-profile event with two African-American athletes of international renown. He sought to leverage the “Rumble in the Jungle” as a means to elevate Zaire’s image on the world stage, portraying it as a modern and progressive nation despite the nation’s ongoing struggle with the consequences of its colonial past.

The financing of the event also bore the hallmarks of colonial resource exploitation. The Zaire government funded the match using profits derived from the country’s abundant natural resources, particularly its mineral wealth. This mirrors the long-standing practice of colonial powers extracting wealth from their colonies for their own gain.

The racial dynamics at play during the “Rumble in the Jungle” further emphasized its colonial implications. Both Ali and Foreman, as African-American athletes, symbolically reconnected with their ancestral roots by choosing to fight in Africa.

This was especially significant for Ali, who was not only an advocate for black empowerment but had also converted to Islam. The event represented a reclamation of African heritage in defiance of a history marred by European colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade.

Upon his arrival, Ali was greeted with enthusiastic adoration. To the people of Zaire, Ali was the embodiment of their country’s struggles, It didn’t take long for a chant to form – “Ali boma ye” – which roughly translates to “Ali, kill him” in English.

Conversely, George Foreman was unable to connect with the locals in the same manner as Ali. Upon his arrival, Foreman exited his plane accompanied by his two German Shepherds, the same breed of dogs used by the Belgians during the colonization period, as depicted in the documentary film “When We Were Kings”.

The “Rumble in the Jungle” was not colonial in nature, but its context and implications were undeniably steeped in colonial history. The event highlighted the ongoing struggle for African nations to overcome the legacy of colonialism while simultaneously celebrating and reclaiming their rich cultural heritage.

The Influence of Colonialism on the Development of Modern Sports

There are many intricate connections between colonialism and modern sport. football’s historical development, global expansion, and contemporary organization are significantly intertwined with colonialism, with the sport serving as both a product and an instrument of colonial powers. While hockey’s ties to colonialism are less pronounced, its evolution and global dissemination have been influenced by colonial powers, leaving a visible colonial legacy within the sport.

Baseball, too, has a colonial history that has shaped its development and spread around the world. Initially emerging in the United States, baseball gained traction in numerous countries as a result of American colonial influence and military presence. 

Although MMA lacks a direct colonial connection, its development worldwide reaches through the UFC, and these certain organizational traits within the sport, are indirectly influenced by the broader context of colonialism and its enduring effects on global culture and power dynamics. These are all ways in which these sports exemplify the lasting impact of colonialism on international culture and power structures.

English Football: A Product of Colonial Expansion

The origins and worldwide spread of football, known as soccer in the United States, can be traced back to the British Empire. With modern football taking shape in the 19th century, the empire’s global reach facilitated the sport’s introduction to Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Football’s global proliferation is, in part, a product of cultural imperialism, as the sport was often used to “civilize” colonized populations and establish hierarchies. Today, the colonial legacy is still evident in national teams and global football organizations such as FIFA.

Baseball: American Cultural Influence and Assimilation

Baseball, with origins in the United States and England in the 18th and 19th centuries, spread globally through the expansion of American influence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The sport’s introduction to the Caribbean, Latin America, and East Asia was often tied to colonial or imperial ambitions, serving as a means of cultural assimilation. Baseball’s role in social structures and hierarchies is reflective of colonial power dynamics. Contemporary baseball still displays colonial influences, with Latin American and Caribbean players joining Major League Baseball (MLB) and the MLB holding significant power worldwide.

Hockey: Canadian Cultural Identity and Global Imposition

Hockey, while not as closely tied to colonialism as English football or American baseball, shares similarities in its development, particularly in shaping Canada’s national identity and imposing those values globally. The sport emerged in Canada, a British colony, in the 19th century, and spread to other regions through networks of colonial powers like France, Belgium, Sweden, and Germany. Hockey’s spread was often facilitated by socio-political factors related to colonialism, with European powers introducing their sports to establish social structures and hierarchies in colonized regions. The colonial legacy in hockey is still evident in the sport’s organization and the dominance of countries like Canada and the United States in international competitions.

Colonial Impact of Modern Sport

The historical development and global spread of English football, American baseball, and Canadian hockey have been significantly influenced by colonial powers and their cultural impact. The colonial legacy is still visible in various aspects of these sports, including power dynamics and the continued influence of former colonial powers in the contemporary sporting world.

The UFC’s Indirect Ties to Colonialism: A Global Phenomenon

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has become a global sensation since its inception in 1993. While it doesn’t have a direct link to colonialism like other sports, certain aspects of its development, growth, and representation have been influenced by the broader context of colonialism and its lasting impact on global culture.

The Emergence of the UFC in a Globalized World

The UFC was established in the United States as a platform for mixed martial arts (MMA) competitions, featuring various disciplines such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and Judo. These martial arts have evolved and spread due to globalization, a process significantly shaped by historical colonialism. The UFC itself emerged from this globalized context, blending techniques from different martial arts to determine which discipline is most effective in real combat situations.

The Cultural Assimilation of Martial Arts by the UFC

The UFC’s assimilation of various martial arts disciplines can be seen as a consequence of globalization and the pervasive influence of American culture, which has roots in historical colonialism. As the UFC’s global reach expanded, it unified diverse martial arts disciplines into a single sport, diluting the unique cultural aspects and practices of each individual martial art.

America’s Socioeconomic and Cultural Dominance in the UFC

The UFC’s success can be partially attributed to the economic and cultural dominance of the United States in the post-colonial era. This influence has extended to various aspects of life, including sports and entertainment. The UFC has capitalized on the appeal of American culture and entertainment, using innovative marketing strategies, international expansion, and assimilation of culturally diverse martial arts disciplines to attract a global audience.

Addressing Orientalism and Racist Stereotypes in the UFC

The UFC has faced criticism for perpetuating stereotypes and reinforcing unequal power dynamics, particularly in relation to race and nationality. To challenge and dismantle these harmful stereotypes and power dynamics, the UFC and other combat sports organizations need to promote fights based on the fighters’ skills and achievements rather than race, nationality, or cultural background. Providing opportunities for fighters from diverse backgrounds to tell their own stories and represent their communities fairly can contribute to a more inclusive and equitable representation of combat sports globally.

Unravelling The Colonial Legacies Of Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC’s development, global spread, and certain aspects of its organization and representation have been influenced by the broader context of colonialism and its lasting effects on global culture. This influence is evident in the ongoing dominance of Western culture and values, commercial success linked to Western capitalist systems, and the appropriation of non-Western martial arts.

Mixed martial artists should work towards dismantling harmful stereotypes and power dynamics permeated by Western culture while promoting inclusivity and fair representation in the world of combat sports.

The Impact of Colonialism on Contemporary Combat Sports and Beyond

The echoes of colonialism can be perceived across the spectrum of modern sports, including football, baseball, hockey, boxing, and mixed martial arts, as exemplified by organizations like the UFC. The development, worldwide proliferation, and cultural contexts of these sports have been permanently etched by colonialism’s enduring effect on global culture and power dynamics.

The legendary “Rumble in the Jungle” was more than just an iconic boxing match; it also epitomized the battle against colonialism and the pursuit of identity and independence among newly-emancipated nations. Held in a stadium built by former Belgian colonizers, the event signified the restoration of national pride and sovereignty for the people of Congo. Ali’s victory stood as a potent symbol for the tenacity and resilience of post-colonial societies in their search for self-determination.

As we confront the legacies of our colonial history, it is crucial to identify and acknowledge the complex connections between sports and colonialism. Moreover, we must contemplate the potential role that sports can serve in fostering greater comprehension and collaboration among diverse cultures.

Although some links between colonialism and contemporary sports might be subtle or indirect, they nevertheless reveal the lasting influence of historical power dynamics on present-day society. Recognizing the legacy of colonialism in modern sports enables us to better comprehend the intricate interplay of history, politics, and culture in today’s sporting landscape. It also underscores the necessity to decolonize historically significant sports, such as mixed martial arts and other combat sports, from their dominant colonial-influenced organizations.

By scrutinizing these organizations and their ties to colonialism, we can attain a deeper understanding of how contemporary sports have acted as both a result and a tool of colonial powers. This examination also illuminates the continuing role of sports in shaping international culture and relations. The decolonization of combat sports is a crucial step towards dismantling the remnants of colonial influence, promoting inclusivity, and ensuring a more equitable future for athletes and modern sports fans alike.


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  10. Riordan, J., & Krüger, A. (2003). European Cultures in Sport: Examining the Nations and Regions. Bristol: Intellect Books.

What Does Decolonization Mean?

Decolonization involves dismantling colonial systems, transferring power to Indigenous peoples, and seeking redress for past injustices in the pursuit of social justice.

What does decolonization mean?

What does decolonization mean?

Decolonization constitutes a multifaceted process that entails the dismantlement of the complex systems of colonialism in a particular territory or region. It involves a substantial shift of power and control from the colonial authorities to the native population, resulting in the creation of independent nation-states. This intricate process can take various forms, such as political independence, economic self-determination, cultural revival, and the acknowledgment of Indigenous rights and sovereignty. Furthermore, decolonization frequently involves struggles for social justice and the redress of historical injustices, including but not limited to, the expropriation of land, the imposition of forced labor, and the annihilation of cultural practices.

Decolonization, as an ongoing phenomenon, has left an indelible impact on the political and social landscapes of numerous countries and regions worldwide. It has provoked significant changes in the lives and identities of Indigenous peoples and has fundamentally altered the relationships between former colonizers and colonized populations. Decolonization represents a vital juncture in the modern history of numerous regions and has contributed to shaping the complex and intricate global landscape of today.

What is colonization?

Colonization represents a complex and multifaceted historical process, characterized by the imposition of political and economic control by a dominant society or nation over another territory, people, or region. The colonizing power endeavors to assert its authority and extend its influence over the colonized society, frequently utilizing forceful or coercive measures to extract resources and labor to further its interests.

The varied forms of colonization include direct rule, where the colonizing power establishes a formal political and administrative structure, and indirect rule, where local elites are co-opted to govern the colony on behalf of the colonizer. Invariably, the process of colonization involves the imposition of a new language, culture, and social system on the colonized population, often having profound impacts on their way of life, traditions, and beliefs.

In particular, Turtle Island, also known as North America, has a history of colonization by European powers such as Britain, France, and Spain, which resulted in the dispossession and displacement of Indigenous peoples from their ancestral lands. The impacts of colonization on Indigenous peoples have been extensive and long-lasting, including economic exploitation, cultural assimilation, and political oppression, which have significantly shaped the political and social landscapes of Turtle Island.

As the enduring impacts of colonization continue to reverberate in numerous parts of the world, it remains imperative to acknowledge and redress the ongoing legacies of colonialism, particularly those experienced by Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island.

Overall, decolonization requires a long-term commitment to structural and systemic change and demands a collective effort to promote social justice, healing, and reconciliation. As individuals, we can all play a role in this process by educating ourselves, amplifying Indigenous voices, respecting Indigenous knowledge and culture, building relationships, taking action, and promoting environmental sustainability.

➡️ MORE: How I Learned To Decolonize Socialism

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Decolonization FAQ

How do we do decolonization?

Decolonization demands acknowledging the impact of colonization, empowering Indigenous peoples, challenging dominant narratives, promoting healing and reconciliation, advocating for environmental sustainability, and supporting Indigenous-led initiatives. It requires a long-term commitment to structural and systemic change, rooted in understanding and respect for Indigenous peoples and their rights.

Why is decolonization important?

Decolonization is crucial because it seeks to address the historical and ongoing injustices faced by Indigenous peoples as a result of colonization. It is a process of returning power and control to the colonized populations and recognizing their sovereignty and rights. Decolonization can help to promote social justice, foster healing and reconciliation, and support sustainable and respectful relationships with the environment and ecosystems.

How I Learned to Decolonize Socialism

How I learned to decolonize socialism. Preventing the process of self-replication to counter the rise of oppressive and elaborate neo-colonial frameworks. by Al Content

I became a socialist through the identity of a cishet white settler male living within the Canadian state, with a cultural identity of primarily Scottish, with some French heritage.

Over time as a leftist, I learned more about myself, traced my heritage, and formed an ethnic identity. 

After digging deep into my matriarchal lineage, I recognized my ethnic identity as Metis, which I confirmed with genealogical records and databasing. I finally understood myself as a Scottish white settler with Metis heritage. However, something was still missing. 

Upon learning more about my Métis ancestry and the history of Métis peoples in the context of settler colonialism, I was struck by the unique approach of French European settlers who arrived on Turtle Island. Unlike other European powers, the French established natural kinship bonds with certain Indigenous communities, ultimately leading to the emergence of the Métis as a distinct people with a unique cultural identity. This history highlights the complexities of colonial relationships and their enduring impacts on the identities and cultures of Indigenous peoples.

While the imperial British settler colonial state enacted its power through ridged segmentation, which included binding various sexual identities into the easily sortable male/female binary, the social colonies of the Metis took on a different approach. 

At first, rather than taking the typical colonial pathway of dominating, segmenting, and extracting from nature. The diverse Metis colonies took on a social structure in an attempt to be in harmony with nature and the Indigenous people of Turtle Island. 

The unrestrained way of life for the Metis people created a culture that incentivized a harmonious and sustainable social structure that fragmented away at times, only to return shortly after, which acted as a natural means to ward off the emergence of any hierarchal structures.

However, as the British Crown’s colonial project on Turtle Island continued to expand, the Metis colony became entrapped in the rigid social segmentation of the colonial framework and found itself binding to the norms of what we understand as the state and statehood today. 

Unbinding the Social Framework

How I Learned to Decolonize Socialism

As I understood this phenomenon, I looked at myself. I became fully aware that I do not fit into that colonial binary framework and that my ethnic, sexual, ideological, and interpersonal identity can not be segmented into an easily organizable category or partition. 

I came into the journey of this understanding as a cishet male with white settler heritage and came out with a personal understanding that I can’t even begin to describe, nor will I try to in this thread. This is more than that, this isn’t about me, but this is how I got here. 

For many of us who identify as settlers, we only understand the oppressive imperialist state we live in through the lens of the state itself. We can only identify and relate to THIS structure through our experience of alienation within it; we’ve never had anything else. 

If our understanding of social liberation can only be framed within this oppressive system, any alternative system we form together will only replicate the system we are currently experiencing. We must think far beyond our understanding of how these social structures operate.

Decolonize Socialism, End Self-Replication

The old socialist project, the idea of seizing the means of production to bring about workers’ liberation, stands ultimately as a chauvinistic, ethnocentric, and non-sectional approach to achieving global solidarity.

Confronting The Faults Of A Failed Revolution

To truly begin this process, we must first acknowledge the faults of old socialism without judgment but with empathy and an informed understanding of the phenomena of self-replication.

If we as settlers only understand the concept of liberation and equality in the framework which upholds a system that impedes the liberation and equality of non-settlers, our understanding of this mythical colonial concept that is ‘equality’ will be perpetually flawed. 

The state acts as an unconscious collective of the dominating human psyche and will forever replicate the state structure in which that dominating human psyche can exist. Regardless of ideology, if conceived within this framework, it will replicate it. 

That framework is a pyramid-shaped hegemonic social process that naturally alienates and oppresses a section of society for a smaller section to prosper.

Any attempt to reform this oppressive system from within will only be a more complex replication.

If we’re going to change society, we must first change our minds and understand the social framework we are currently collectively experiencing. The only way to do that is to unite and break out of that framework with collective collaboration. 

Human beings are not naturally meant to be rigidly segmented into binary identities. We’re not meant to live in a world where our only understanding of ourselves is through the experience of how we are alienated and oppressed for the benefit of the system we’re forced to serve. 

A system that perpetuates itself on each individual’s own self-exploitation is a system that is defined by its own ultimate self-destruction. Humanity is a collective experience, not a singular one, we have to share our environment collectively, or we’re destined for destruction. 

The way to stop this process goes far beyond ‘seizing the means of production,’ but yes, that’s a start.

Revolutionism, socialism, communism, reformism, electoralism, and activism are tools, but they are not a solution. The solution is all of it and none of it. 

We can’t comprehend the solution because we’ve only ever been able to understand solutions within the framework of the oppressive social structure we exist in. We must decolonize our understanding of these things and reshape them to form new understandings. We must decolonize socialism.

This is not an attack on any socialist ideologies or practices but an acknowledgment of their functions, what they do that provokes positive change, and what they do that can cause regressive harm. This is how we stop the phenomena of social self-replication and how we decolonize socialism and our politics entirely.

The colonial concept of ‘socialism’ has proven to be an excellent method of understanding for us as settlers to identify how these oppressive systems operate.

However, this understanding of socialism is still ultimately flawed. When implemented, it will replicate as such. Only until we decolonize socialism will our efforts as settlers amount to anything more than self-destruction.

One day we’ll reach a collective understanding of how exactly to bring about a revolutionary post-colonial system that can implement itself without replicating past oppressive systems, but that won’t be done by attempting to achieve colonial concepts like ‘equality.’ 

It will be done by coming to terms with ourselves, our humanity, and our own self-destructive nature.

It will be done by achieving holistic harmony with the planet and all other living species on earth and, by doing such – ensuring our survival as a species and a planet.

In love and solidarity.
Al Content