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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.

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:

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:

View this post on Instagram

Black Lives Matter

A post shared by Tyson Barrie (@tysonbarrie4) on

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:

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

View this post on Instagram

A lot of people may claim these riots and acts of destruction are a terrible response. I’ll be the first to admit that as a white male that was also my first reaction. But who am I to tell someone that their pain is not real? Especially when it is at a boiling point and impossible to hold in anymore. It’s obviously coming from a place of truth. This reaction isn’t coming out of thin air. I’m not condoning or approving the looting, but are we really going to sit here and say that peaceful protesting is the only answer? There has been plenty of time for that, and if it was the answer we would’ve given it our full attention long ago. Listen to these two men debate. They are lost, they are in pain. They strived for a better future but as they get older they realize their efforts may be futile. They don’t know the answer of how to solve this problem for the next generation of black women and men. This breaks my heart. I can’t pretend for a second that I know what it feels like to walk in a black man’s shoes. However, seeing the video of George Floyd’s death and the violent reaction across the country moved me to tears. It has pushed me to think, how much pain are black people and other minorities really feeling? What have Native American people dealt with in both Canada and US? What is it really like to grow up in their world? Where am I ignorant about the privileges that I may have that others don’t? Compassion to me is at least trying to FEEL and UNDERSTAND what someone else is going through. For just a moment maybe I can try to see the world through their eyes. Covid has been rough but it has given us the opportunity to be much less preoccupied with our busy lives. We can no longer distract ourselves from the truth of what is going on. My message isn’t for black people and what they should do going forward. My message is to white people to open our eyes and our hearts. That’s the only choice we have, otherwise this will continue. Let’s choose to fight hate and fear with love and awareness. Ask not what can you do for me, but what can I do for you? Be the one to make the first move. In the end, love conquers all. #blacklivesmatter

A post shared by Jonathan Toews (@jonathantoews) on

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

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.

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.