Don Cherry

Don Cherry is loved and known by many hockey fans, particularly Canadian hockey fans. So, the news came as a shock to many, when on September 11th, Cherry was fired by Sportsnet for making comments regarding ‘new immigrants’ who were referred to as ‘you people’ who “enjoy our way of life, but can’t be bothered to put on a poppy for Remembrance day”.

Many rushed to Don Cherry’s defence following his removal from the network, including co-host Ron MacLean. MacLean, who has shared the ‘Coach’s Corner’ platform with the 85-year-old, claims that he doesn’t believe Don Cherry is racist. Many even argued that his comment did not even mention immigrants or race, and that the oversensitivity of this generation has caused a man to loose his job. However, it doesn’t take a genius to know that the language used in Don Cherry’s statement has racial undertones that even a child could understand, especially coming from a white, privileged man. The notion of ‘you people’ in ‘our country’ clearly alienates migrants who have come to Canada for a better life, and perpetuates the idea, that despite many of these immigrants having attained legal status, they are still not welcome or considered Canadian.

This is unfortunately not the only time Don Cherry has said something of this nature. If anyone has really been paying attention to Don Cherry over the past 40 years, they know that his comments often have racial undertones that have long been swept under the rug. Cherry has always carried an anti-immigrant, anti-person of colour rhetoric in the pocket of his crazy designed blazers.

For example, back in 1990, on CBC’s Fifth Estate, Don Cherry ranted that foreigners are coming to Canada and “earning the dough”, which showcases that his rhetoric has clearly not changed. In 2007, Chris Simon, who is an Ojibwa First Nation, received a 30 game suspension, the highest in NHL history, which was questioned by many on whether or not there was racial undertones to his suspension. Don Cherry, furiously came back at those claims saying “are you saying natives have an inferiority complex…and when something happens to them … Go out and get your own fair shake in life and work for it.” Even if the suspension did not carry a discriminatory notion, Cherry’s stance and statements undermines the colonial history that Indigenous communities have face within Canada, which can include the conditions of poverty, suicide, unemployment, and substance addiction, an aftermath of colonial policy and enforcement.

Don Cherry has gone from insulting Russian players by deeming them as ‘spies’, or even targeting women as not knowing the game, to insulting the Indigenous community within Canada. Many feel as though Don Cherry has influenced hockey and has left a long lasting impact. And I can’t agree more. Don Cherry was a public symbol of Canada and its national sport, and through this Don Cherry has institutionalized white supremacy and anti-immigrant notions into the sport of hockey, influencing many of his fans through his radical political views that are hidden by ‘hockey discussions’.

References

Derworiz, C. (2019, November 20). Ron MacLean says he doesn’t believe Don Cherry is racist | CBC Sports. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/ron-maclean-don-cherry-reaction-nov-19-1.5365690.

Ho, S. (2019, November 11). Don Cherry’s history of controversial comments. Retrieved from https://www.ctvnews.ca/sports/don-cherry-s-history-of-controversial-comments-1.4680505.

Shea, C. (2019, November 15). How To Talk To Your (Kinda Racist) Uncle About Don Cherry. Retrieved from https://www.refinery29.com/en-ca/don-cherry-fired-rant-jess-allen.

sport, G. (2019, November 11). Hockey pundit Don Cherry fired by Sportsnet over xenophobic poppy rant. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/nov/11/don-cherry-fired-racist-poppy-comments.

Sportsnet Staff. (2009, September 15). Cherry comes to defence of Simon. Retrieved from https://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/cherry-simon/.

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