Nazi brothers compete in honor of the Colored Hockey League
Two Nova Scotia brothers will face off in a game commemorating the 128th anniversary of the Colored Hockey League on Saturday.
Percy Paris and John Paris Jr. will be the Colored Hockey League Honorary Coaches of the Maritimes Memorial Game, which is being held at the RBC Center in Dartmouth.
The league was formed in 1895, with teams from across the Maritimes playing primarily on lakes and outdoor ice rinks.
Almost 130 years later, all-Black players will compete as members of the Halifax Eurekas and Dartmouth Jubilees – the two teams competing in the first official CHL game.
The first game ended in a draw. Bragging rights are at stake this year as teams celebrate the contributions of the CHL and Blacks to the Canadian game.
The Paris brothers believe this marks the first time two black siblings have coached opposing all-black teams outside of the CHL.
“I never thought we’d have this opportunity in our lifetimes anyway,” Paris Jr. told CBC radio Information morning Nova Scotia on Friday.
“Most families never have that, regardless of the sport, so it’ll be comfortable and I’ll have fun … watching him do his thing and I’ll do mine.”
The brothers grew up playing hockey in Windsor, NS, which is considered the birthplace of the sport.
Paris Jr. said they never considered themselves black hockey players, only hockey players.
“We just played hockey like the other kids did, like our dad taught us … we already knew what color we were, but we just played the game because it was a game that kids played, adults played.” and fans loved.” he said.
Paris played for the Saint Mary’s Huskies and was part of the first all-black line in Canadian varsity and college hockey.
He said the sport has come a long way since that game in 1895, but the culture itself has yet to change.
He said he tried to diversify the sport while employed at Dalhousie University in Halifax in the 1990s by offering personal and professional development to Hockey Canada, the National Hockey League and the Canadian Hockey League, to no avail.
“We realized over 30 years ago that some things needed to change in hockey culture and that inclusion was never part of their game plan to the extent that it should be.”
Tips for players
Paris Jr., the first black coach in professional hockey, has decades of coaching experience.
His brother, on the other hand, said he realizes he doesn’t have that much.
To compensate, Paris said he has a surprising “motivating, highly skilled person” who will meet his players ahead of the game.
Although the game is only for showing off, Paris Jr. encouraged players to do their best and enjoy their time on the ice.
“Instead of worrying about scoring tons of goals, worry about playing as well as you can, be content,” said Paris Jr.
Paris also encouraged the young athletes to take the game seriously as a show of respect.
“Whatever the result, whatever the result at the end of the game, I don’t think anyone will care who won because there would be no losers,” he said.
“And I just think we’re going to get out there, we’re going to have fun and we’re going to pay tribute to those who are here currently and certainly those who have gone before us.”
Game starts at 7pm AT. Admission is free but donations to the Black Youth Ice Hockey Program are welcome.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians – from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community – click here Being Black in Canadaa CBC project that Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
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