Statements, Responses, and More: What Toronto Maple Leafs are doing to support Black Lives Matter

Managing Editor’s Note: The writers on TheLeafsNation.com expressed to me earlier today they didn’t feel right about getting back to talking hockey on this site until we addressed what is happening in the world in some capacity on this site. Admittedly, I was wrong to not have something up on the site sooner.
While we know this post is too little for some and for others the site should “stick to sports” we do want to condemn the senseless murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, share our support the Black Lives Matter movement, and the acknowledge importance of demanding change through protest.
Speaking only for myself, I can be better and I hope to show it to you. I also want to acknowledge the fact that I am making these comments as a white male on a post written by another white male and that in my role as managing editor of this site I need to diversify the voices on this site and ensure the environment is one where all writers feel supported.
We all need to make changes where we have the ability to and I hope to show you some improvement.
Thank you for reading.
Jon Steitzer

After the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, MN, an outpouring of support is being called on from organizations across the business spectra, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are well within that scope. The public sphere is demanding that companies make categorical denouncements of the systemic racism that led to George Floyd’s murder, along with far too many others in recent history like Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Regis Korchsinki-Paquet; black lives that were ended far too early by police. The Leafs released the following statement on May 31st, one of the first teams to do so.

The Leafs also participated in Tuesday’s social media-based demonstration, #BlackOutTuesday, as did the new NWHL franchise the Toronto Six and all of the following members of the two organizations:

Auston Matthews, Morgan Rielly, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen, Frederik Andersen, Zach Hyman, Andreas Johnsson, Ilya Mikheyev, Travis Dermott, Rasmus Sandin, Justin Holl, Pierre Engvall, Alexander Kerfoot, Timothy Liljegren, Kenny Agostino, Nic Petan, Pontus Aberg, and Teemu Kivihalme.

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The Toronto Six also tweeted this link to Black Girl Hockey Club’s announcement of an interview with Metropolitan Riveters player Saroya Tinker on June 4th at 3PM ET.

Many Leafs also shared their own statements of support over the course of the last few days. Here is Auston Matthews’ statement, from May 31st:

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Morgan Rielly also shared this video message showing his support. The same video was shared by Mitch Marner, :

Here is team captain John Tavares’ message:

Here is Tyson Barrie’s statement on his Instagram page:

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Nic Petan also shared this Nelson Mandela quote on his Instagram page:

Adam Brooks retweeted a couple of the statements above.

Nothing Yet

So far, the following players have yet to make any statement: Jake Muzzin, Jack Campbell, Kyle Clifford, Martin Marincin, Jason Spezza, Denis Malgin, Calle Rosén, Cody Ceci, Frederik Gauthier, Nicholas Robertson, Egor Korshkov, and Kevin Gravel. Many of these players simply don’t have a social media account to share a statement on to begin with. If anyone knows of statements that I’ve missed please let me know and I’ll update this post as expediently as I can.

Outside the Leafs Org

A few other statements deserve mention for their strength and completeness in demonstrating complete support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Here’s one from former Leaf Ben Scrivens, which in general makes the point that performative gestures like Black Out Tuesday are not enough at all:

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Another statement that garnered a lot of attention was this post from Jonathan Toews:

This from Blake Wheeler was one of the first and most unwavering statements to be released:

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The biggest one, the only one I’ve seen that actually made a commitment to something tangible, was this one from Patrice Bergeron:

This video message from PK Subban was also a different statement, going beyond only making a statement in donating $50k to Gianna Floyd (George Floyd’s 6 year old daughter) GoFundMe page, and getting the NHL to match that donation:

Going Beyond Statements

So far no one in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization has made any public declarations of financial support or other definite actions that would carry this movement further.

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If you want to make donations, here are some good places to send your money that aim to help African-Canadians, focusing first on Toronto, then Ontario, then on Canada-wide organizations.

All links and descriptions below are from this post on HuffPostCanada.

Black Lives Matter Toronto: Canada’s largest BLM chapter. In their own words, they aim “to forge critical connections and to work in solidarity with black communities, black-centric networks, solidarity movements, and allies in order to to dismantle all forms of state-sanctioned oppression, violence, and brutality committed against African, Caribbean, and Black cis, queer, trans, and disabled populations in Toronto.”

Black Legal Action Centre (Ontario): a non-profit community legal clinic that provides free legal services for low or no income Black residents of Ontario.

Nia Centre for the Arts (Toronto): Canada’s first Black art centre, committed to fostering and promoting Black identity and community in Toronto through art.

Black Liberation Collective (various universities): Black Liberation Collectives are an international movement of students challenging anti-Black racism in post-secondary institutions The BLC began in Canada at Ryerson University and the University of Toronto in 2015.

Black Health Alliance: A community-led charity looking to reduce the racial disparities in health access and care in Canada, focusing on the broad determinants of health, including racism.

Black Youth Helpline (Canada-wide): Originally started in Manitoba, the Black Youth Helpline focuses on community development and support for Black youth across Canada.

Black Women In Motion (Toronto): A organization that support the advancement of Black women in Toronto through educational tools, economic opportunities and cultural content.

There are also some broader Canadian equity and anti-racism organizations you can support.