w h s feature main

A chance to challenge

Coaches, administrators and fans of the game gathered virtually for the National Female Hockey Forum and Women’s Hockey Summit

Lee Boyadjian
May 14, 2021

After a weekend of spirited discussion about the women’s game, there was one key take away for Amy Walsh.

“I’m not alone.”

The executive director of Hockey Nova Scotia was a contributor to the National Female Hockey Forum and panellist for the Women’s Hockey Summit, both features of Hockey Canada’s 2021 Spring Congress, which took place virtually from May 6-9. She said both events were inspiring but also an honest look at the state of women’s hockey. Much of the discussion focused on the obstacles still faced in the game and potential ways to overcome those.

“Just statements aren’t enough and talk is not enough. I think it needs to be action and potentially some bold action,” Walsh says. “[Those actions] need to be intentional. Women need to be asked, women need to be sponsored, there needs to be seats at the table.”

“I really hope people will go out there and take action, impact their pieces of society but the reality is slow evolution of change,” says Stephanie White, chair of the Hockey Canada Female Hockey Policy Committee, which hosted the two events. White added this forum was just the first of many more discussions to come.

“This is not something that we’ve solved the problem with one weekend so we will need to continue this work and continue to education and continue to grow so that we can actually grow the game.”

The National Female Hockey Forum brought together nearly 200 delegates from Hockey Canada and its Members. Barry Reynard, a Hockey Canada director, sits on the policy committee with White and is also part of the Female Canadian Development Model task team. He said one goal of the weekend was getting hockey governance, athletes and administrators to the same table.

“We’ve never brought those people and those minds together,” Reynard says. “I think that this is one of the outcomes of [these events] … the good work of the committees is very close to some very powerful opportunities.”

One of those opportunities lies with Hockey Canada’s renewed commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion; ensuring new voices and varied experiences are sought out and welcomed. Walsh said there were signs of this during the Women’s Hockey Summit, with panellists of different hockey backgrounds discussing women’s leadership opportunities and growing the game. They also answered questions from more than 600 people in the virtual audience.

“It was a good first step and an eye-opening experience for some of the participants,” Walsh says.

“In a way, I think we challenged some people. I think there was some good learning for a variety of people so I hope that people have gone away themselves ready to take action in whatever way they can,” White adds.

Hockey Canada is taking action to empower those in the women’s game through the Pond to Podium development series. The first set of webinars was hosted by Olympic gold medallist and two-time world champion Tessa Bonhomme. Pond to Podium gives grassroots players access to the coaches, players and administrators of Canada’s National Women’s Team.

For more information on the Pond to Podium development series, please visit HockeyCanada.ca/PondtoPodium.

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

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