Lenasia Ned, the girlfriend of Edmonton Oilers’ Ethan Bear is speaking out after she says racist comments were levelled at the player after the team’s loss Monday night.
“Ethan has received numerous racist messages and comments. To hide behind a screen is cowardly. But to use stereotypes against him as an Indigenous person is dehumanizing and awful!” she wrote on Facebook. “We will not be silenced. It is 2021 we are all equal and this needs to stop.”
The Oilers, who finished second in the NHL’s northern division, lost to the Winnipeg Jets in four games straight and were eliminated from the playoffs on Monday.
While mistakes took place throughout the game, one miscue by Bear ended up in the back of the Oilers’ net which tied the game.
The Oilers lost in triple overtime.
While Ned isn’t sharing the offending posts, she says some people took the loss out on Bear, who is from Ochapowace Nation in Saskatchewan.
“Ethan has broken countless barriers as an Indigenous man to make it to the NHL. He is human. We understand there is criticism but there is no room for racism.”
Bear responded in a post from the Edmonton Oilers’ Twitter account late Wednesday afternoon.
“We just came off a hard fought series, we didn’t’ get the results that we wanted but the guys left it all on the line,” says Bear in the video. “As you know I’ve been subjected to racist behaviour on social media and I know this doesn’t represent all Oilers’ fans or hockey fans and I greatly appreciate your support and love during this time.
“I’m here to stand up to this behavior, to these comments. I’m proud of where I come from.”
Watch Ethan Bear’s comment here:
"I'm here to stand up to this behaviour… I'm proud of where I come from. I'm proud to be from Ochapowace First Nation. I'm not just doing this for myself. I'm doing this for all people of colour & for the next generation."
Ethan Bear's statement in response to racist comments. pic.twitter.com/3CK6DENnHC
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) May 26, 2021
Philip Paul-Martin, the editor of Native Hockey News says Bear isn’t the only one who made mistakes in game four. He says Connor McDavid also turned the puck over for the game winning goal by Kyle Connors.
He says McDavid seems to have gotten a pass on that – but Bear didn’t.
“Just as the way Bear turned over the puck, so too did McDavid. But nobody questions his ancestry. Or where he comes from. The core if his being. He just made a bad play.”
The team is also speaking out about what happened after the loss.
In the traditional season ending interview with media, General Manager Ken Holland says he had just learned of the issue and that there is no place for racism in the world.
“Totally uncalled for. Totally unacceptable. It’s disgusting,” he says. “I feel sick for him. I’m disappointed for him that he would get this kind of abuse. It’s unacceptable.
Ethan Bear represents both our game and his Indigenous heritage with dignity and pride. He, and all people from Indigenous backgrounds, deserve to feel empowered and respected on and off the ice. We stand with Ethan and his family in denouncing hate. pic.twitter.com/BQazdfjS1B
— NHL (@NHL) May 26, 2021
“Obviously we have to continue to work at every level to think we made strides, but there’s a long way to go.”
A couple of fans are planning an anti-racism rally on Saturday in support of Bear.
And a publication called Oilers Nation also issued a statement condemning the comments Ned said Bear received.
“If you’re pissed off about this and you want to do something in Bear’s honour, I suggest making a donation to Spirit North, an organization that uses land-based activities to improve the health and well-being of Indigenous youth. Here’s another option, donating to Bear’s hockey camp for the Ochapowace Cree Nation.