The parents of a former minor hockey goaltender question the impartiality of Hockey Quebec in its handling of complaints and hope to obtain redress in court. The Human Rights Commission opened an investigation following a failed mediation attempt.
In the current case, the Commission authorities will be called upon to investigate a situation of discrimination. If the evidence is sufficient in the eyes of the Commission, remedial measures could be proposed.
The story made headlines in the media during the 2018-2019 season.
The previous year, Louis-Charles Davignon, a bantam B level goalkeeper from Varennes, had to resign himself to abandoning his season and then his favorite position after a wave of pressure from the parents of the team who no longer wanted to see him in front of the net. They even threatened to take their child away if Louis-Charles continued to play to the detriment of the team’s other goalie, who had better skills.
“At each stage, there was never an independent committee and the process was not impartial, that’s what I deplore. They are judges and parties. We would not have gotten there otherwise, we have exhausted all our resources, ”says his mother Nicole Vincent, in an interview with the Newspaper.
Louis-Charles suffers from a slight cerebral palsy, strabismus and joint weakness. He has one leg that is stiffer than the other. But that doesn’t stop the sixteen-year-old from playing sports and recreational activities. Nor to go to school and work, for that matter.
However, at the time, officials of the Association of Varennes and Hockey Richelieu feared for his safety. According to them, the young player found himself with his back to the game, which Nicole Vincent and Paul Davignon have always refuted.
In its place
Louis-Charles continued to play hockey as a defender and a striker, even if “I don’t have the same fun,” he said today, in an interview with the Newspaper. He played last summer in a garage league with his sister. Last year, he replaced at short notice the goalkeeper of his midget B club for five games. In a letter, his trainer Patrice Austin praised his determination.
” […] I assure you that Louis-Charles never put himself in danger in this position and that he followed the game and the puck very well, even in the most intense moments. In my humble opinion, it has its place in men’s minor hockey. His place is surely not in an adapted hockey league as has already been discussed about him, ”he wrote.
Dissatisfied with the conclusions of Hockey Richelieu’s report, in which it was insinuated in particular that their son was disinterested in hockey and that there were risks for his safety, the parents had turned to the provincial federation. Hockey Quebec had judged that it was a conflict between parents. They were forced to take respect training.
The provincial disciplinary committee (CPD) was then seized of the case and concluded, in its report of June 18, 2019, not to follow up on the file, not to propose additional sanctions to the offending parents and not to grant the Davignon financial compensation as they wished.
The committee reports that “if there was discrimination and indirect intimidation of the Davignon son, it is due to the sole fact that his parents informed him of all the communications which had been exchanged between the adults in the file”.
“One of the first things that threw me off my chair was that they still haven’t recognized that he was indirectly bullied when the definition is cited in the guide. We get blame, but our son saw what was going on […] He had lanterns, ”explains Mme Vincent.
An incomplete report, deplores the family
The Davignon family is still struggling to understand the conclusions of the report of Hockey Quebec’s provincial discipline committee.
The committee, chaired by Benoît Noël, made its recommendations to the provincial federation without hearing witnesses who could have shed a different light on the story.
With the exception of Louis-Charles and his parents, the only people who testified at the hearing had already made interventions with the youngster at previous stages, including the president of Hockey Richelieu, Jacques Hébert, and his vice-president. president, Denis Proulx.
Louis-Charles, then 13 years old, had been met alone by the two men in February 2018, a way of proceeding described as “reckless” by the members of the provincial committee. Hockey Quebec’s administrative regulations stipulate that any minor player must be accompanied by a parent and that the latter will have the right to speak.
“They did not want to hear from the recreational director of the Association de Varennes [à l’époque] concerning an event of February 13, 2018 in which parents heckled and surrounded members of the local association by threatening to remove their child. Mr. Denis Proulx was present during this incident, ”reveals Nicole Vincent.
Almost three years after all the incidents, Nicole Vincent feels that the time has passed for excuses and hopes that the Human Rights Commission will find sufficient evidence.
“I would like to apologize to my son, but after all this time, we doubt that it is sincere.
“We want it to open the way for other people who don’t dare [dénoncer]. We know what it takes in terms of effort and the impact it has on family life. I hope that the outcome will be in our favor to give hope to young people that we can denounce and change things, ”concludes the mother.
Hockey Quebec declined to comment due to the ongoing investigation.