Tuesday 7th and Monday 13 February 2023

Hockey Mania with Black History Ottawa

by Ruth Aman

This February, Black History Ottawa celebrated the Coloured Hockey League of the Maritimes (CHLM) through various events and engagements. From games with local community members to an official NHL game, the love of hockey brought community and legacy together

On Tuesday, February 7th, Black History Ottawa hosted its 2nd Annual Commemorative Hockey game at the Canadian Tire Centre. Established in 1895, the CHML was an all-Black ice hockey league founded in Nova Scotia. The commemorative game celebrated the 128th anniversary of the CHLM and included players from Ottawa and beyond.

It started off at 6:30 with a Youth Hockey Clinic. Young children and youth from the African Hockey Association were invited to play against each other while having the once-in-a-lifetime chance of being coached by past Ottawa Senators players. The African Hockey Association is an organization serving African families throughout the city by creating spaces for children to play and excel in Canada’s national sport. Coached by Godlove Ngwafusi, the African Hockey Association supports youth in achieving things they could only dream about. The Youth Hockey Clinic allowed the kids to practice techniques, learn new skills and have a great time on Sens Ice.

When the youth had cleared the ice, it was then time for the commemorative game. The two teams, Africville Sea-Sides and PEI West-End Rangers comprised local leaders, hockey enthusiasts and youth. Introduced by renowned TV broadcaster Adrian Harewood, the teams came out onto the ice with full gear ready to commemorate the legacy of Black Canadians who created their own names and established themselves in a sport that wasn’t meant for them.

The National Anthem was sung by Jisca Umba whose ethereal voice filled the stadium. Following this, former Canadian Olympian Justice Hugh Fraser, City Councillor Rawlson King, and Honourable Louise Logue approached the centre of the rink to take part in the ceremonial puck drop.

The Africville Sea-Sides were coached by Jacquie Dixon and Fitzroy Reid and amongst an amazing group of players were Ottawa’s Rabbi Idan Scher and hockey historian Bob Dawson.

Sean Foyn and Emma Weller coached the Westenders and players on the team included Rev. Anthony Bailey, Llew Ncwana, and Garth Gittens.

With over a hundred friends, families, and hockey lovers watching from the stands, the teams both played an intense hockey game. The game concluded 5-6 with PEI West End rangers taking home the gold.

The following week, on the 13th, the Ottawa Senators hosted the Calgary Flames at the Canadian Tire Centre for Black History Hockey Appreciation Night. A special night meant to honour the legacies and contributions of Black Canadians to the game of hockey, the stadium was filled high and wide with young children, youth, and adults.

With the beautiful singing of the National Anthem and the flags held by young Black cadets, the undertones of Black celebration and remembrance were present throughout the entire ceremony. The puck drop was done by a group of five youth Black hockey players joined by historian Tom Barber and players from both the Senators and Flames.

Throughout periods of the game, the Hockey screens lit up recognizing Black Canadians within the hockey scene. One story that was highlighted was the story of Mathieu Joseph, the right winger for the Ottawa Senators. Originally from Laval Quebec, Joseph was born to a Black Canadian Father and a White mother who both instilled family values and a love for hockey. As his father also played hockey, both Mathieu and his brother began to spend a great amount of time on the hockey ice. Now they both have achieved their dreams of playing for different teams in the NHL.

In the video, he also spoke about his experiences with discrimination and racism. He recalled being in his younger years and hearing the voices and words of those who did not appreciate his family or skin colour. His mom would always tell him to ignore those voices and remember that everything is meant to grow his character. Therefore, he said that he grew mentally stronger and this also equipped him with strength in his hockey mentality.

Other periods of the game were filled with fun games involving the audience and a wheelbarrow race on the ice in which the winners would receive a great donation to their organization of choice.

The board members of Black History Ottawa were joined by special guests such as Rawlson King, Bob Dawson, Ketcia Peters, and other community members as they watched the game from above.

As for the game itself, some of the best players on the Ottawa Senators showed just how great they are.

Though the Flames were leading for the first few quarters, the Sens made a quick comeback. Tensions rose within the last period of the game as Senators fans had thought this game was a sure defeat due to the fact that the team was down 3-1, with the first goal only being scored in the first period by #21 Brandon Tkachuk.

As the final moments of the game came, the Sens had a quick turn-around and scored 2 goals in the last 5 minutes of the game forcing an overtime period.

The final goal was made by #23 Tim Stutzle in the OT period, giving the Senators a great victory. The final score was 3-4 Senators.


Ruth Aman

Ruth Aman is a Project Officer with Black History Ottawa. She holds a Bachelor of Global and International Studies (Honors) degree, with a specialization in Law and Social Justice from Carleton University.