WHL’s industry-leading Respect In Hockey Program educates over 2,000 players and staff for 2023-24 season
Calgary, Alta. – The Western Hockey League announced today that over 2,000 players and staff have completed the WHL’s industry-leading Respect in Hockey online education program.
Designed to educate players on consent, healthy relationships, diversity, and the risks of bullying, hazing, harassment, and abuse, the WHL Respect in Hockey program is an online respect education seminar.
“The WHL prides itself on its commitment to changing the culture in hockey by fostering a safe and healthy environment for all of our players and staff,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “We believe we need to empower our players and staff with knowledge to create a safe and respectful environment. With the Respect in Hockey program reaching all of our players and staff, we continue to work towards ensuring our entire WHL community is educated on the prevention of any form of maltreatment. We believe everyone associated with the WHL has a responsibility to assist with the safeguarding of the system and comply with our standards of conduct.”
The WHL first introduced mandatory Respect Education seminars for all players as part of the overarching WHL Players First programming initiatives in the late 1990s. From 1998 to 2019, the Canadian Red Cross in partnership with the WHL administered mandatory Respect Education seminars to all WHL players. In 2011, the WHL also mandated Respect in Sport certification, which is administered by Respect Group. In 2019, the WHL Respect in Hockey program was created through collaboration with Sheldon Kennedy and Wayne McNeil, co-founders of the Respect Group, and leading experts from the Canadian Red Cross. The WHL Respect in Hockey program, which was fully implemented during the 2020-21 season, is a mandatory program for all WHL personnel and includes online seminars, Respect Champion Workshops and Respect in Sport certification.
In addition to the online educational components of the Respect in Hockey program, each WHL Club will conduct a series of Respect Champion Workshops to receive continuing education and be tasked with facilitating further conversations pertaining to respect with players and staff. This season the Respect Champion workshops will focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.
“The Respect Champions role is part of a holistic approach by the WHL to ensure the safety and well-being of our players,” said Lisa Evanoff, WHL Senior Advisor of Respect in Hockey. “The Respect Champions are there as trusting and caring adults to provide important education and to be empathetic listeners and supports for our players. Their role is to create a safe and inclusive environment where players can talk about concerns or stressors in their life and get the support they may need to be successful on and off the ice.”
The WHL Respect in Hockey programming, which is mandatory for all WHL Clubs, is introduced prior to the start of the WHL season with programming to be delivered throughout the course of the season.
WHL Respect Charter
Following a successful pilot project in 2022-23, the WHL Respect Charter will be fully implemented across all 22 WHL Clubs for the 2023-24 season in partnership with the Respect Group. The WHL Respect Charter engages players, coaches, and dressing room personnel in a series of workshops designed to create the conditions to develop psychologically safe, respectful, and inclusive environments and team cultures.
Each WHL Club will generate their own unique Respect Charter, which will serve as the team’s identity, what they stand for, and how they will hold themselves and each other accountable to maintain a positive and supportive team culture.
The WHL Respect Charter serves as a visual and symbolic representation of the team’s commitment to the principles of respect, inclusion, and a positive environment.
WHL Security Network and Player Advisory Council
To provide further assurance that all WHL Clubs are delivering a safe and positive environment for the players and staff, the WHL Security Network and the Player Advisory Council continue to play key roles in the WHL’s safeguarding system.
The WHL Security Network and the Security Liaison Officers assigned to each WHL Club monitor the team environments and investigate any complaints that come forward through the 1-800 Respect phone line.
The Player Advisory Council serves as an independent complaint channel and investigates any complaints to determine if a violation of WHL policies, regulations or Code of Conduct has occurred.
About the Western Hockey League
Regarded as the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players, the Western Hockey League (WHL) head office is based in Calgary, Alberta. The WHL offers a world-class player experience featuring three key cornerstones: hockey development, education, and a safe and positive environment for all participants. A diverse and inclusive organization, the WHL consists of 22 member Clubs with 16 located in Western Canada and six in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. A member of the Canadian Hockey League, the WHL has been a leading supplier of talent for the National Hockey League for close to 60 years. The WHL is also a leading provider of hockey scholarships with over 375 graduates each year receiving WHL Scholarships to pursue a post-secondary education of their choice. Each season, WHL players also form the nucleus of Canada’s National Junior Hockey Team.