WHL enhances Respect in Hockey and Security Network programs

Calgary, Alta. –  The Western Hockey League today announced a series of enhancements to the WHL Respect in Hockey and the Security Network programs during the 2022 WHL Leadership Conference, which was held virtually today in preparation for WHL Club Training Camps which open beginning September 1.

The WHL introduced mandatory Respect Education seminars for all players as part of the overarching WHL Players First programming initiatives in the late 1990s. From 1998 to 2019, the Canadian Red Cross in partnership with the WHL administered mandatory Respect Education seminars to all WHL players. In 2011, the WHL also mandated Respect in Sport certification, which is administered by the Respect Group. The WHL Respect in Hockey program was created in 2019 through collaboration with Sheldon Kennedy and Wayne McNeil, co-founders of the Respect Group and leading experts from the Canadian Red Cross. The WHL Respect in Hockey program, which was fully implemented during the 2020-21 season, is a mandatory program for all WHL personnel and includes on-line seminars, Respect Champion workshops and Respect in Sport certifications.

“The WHL prides itself in not only being one of the world’s finest development leagues but also a leader in the sports industry in the development and implementation of respect education programming,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “For over 20 years the WHL has partnered with leading organizations in the respect field such as the Respect Group and the Canadian Red Cross and we remain fully committed to educating our entire WHL community on the prevention of any form of maltreatment. We believe everyone associated with the WHL has a responsibility to assist with the prevention and safeguarding of the system. The enhancements made to our WHL Respect in Hockey and Security Network programs further demonstrate our commitment to continue offering a safe and respectful environment at all times in the WHL.”

WHL Leadership Conference
Hosted every two years, the WHL Leadership Conference delivers a wide variety of professional development seminars and education programs for WHL general managers, coaches, and hockey operations personnel from all 22 member Clubs. Conducted virtually, the 2022 WHL Leadership Conference focused specifically on enhancing the WHL Player Experience through respect education, player safety, and staff professional development.

As a part of the 2022 WHL Leadership Conference, WHL Commissioner Ron Robison announced the leadership group which will oversee the WHL Respect in Hockey and Security Network programs during the 2022-23 WHL season:

WHL Respect in Hockey Program

  • Stacey Meyer – WHL Manager, Education Services
  • Lisa Evanoff – WHL Senior Advisor, Respect in Hockey Program
  • Peter Soberlak – WHL Respect in Hockey Consultant, Mental Health & Resiliency
  • Sheldon Kennedy – Respect Group Inc.
  • Wayne McNeil – Respect Group Inc.

WHL Security Network

  • Kevan Stuart – Head of the WHL Security Network
  • Patrick Nogier – Head of the Player Advisory Council

Appointment of Lisa Evanoff –Senior Advisor, WHL Respect in Hockey Program
The WHL is pleased to announce that effective November 1, Lisa Evanoff, formerly of the Canadian Red Cross will join the WHL to serve as the Senior Advisor of the WHL Respect in Hockey Program. Evanoff spent nearly three decades as the National Training Manager for Respect Education, working in violence prevention and risk reduction with the Canadian Red Cross. While with the Red Cross Evanoff managed the delivery of the WHL’s Respect Education Seminars to all 22 member Clubs for over 20 years.

“The WHL has led the way with respect education training over the past two decades and I was fortunate to play a key role with the Canadian Red Cross in the delivery of these programs,” Evanoff said. “I am so honoured to be back working with the WHL to promote the safeguarding of athletes and personnel, and building an environment of respect and integrity in hockey.”

Evanoff’s experience working in programs that promoted respect, provided safety, and prevented violence will further aid the WHL in its endeavor to be at the forefront of delivering vital education to WHL players and staff in the area of respect. In her new capacity, Evanoff will also continue to work alongside Sheldon Kennedy and other experts in the field to further enhance the WHL Respect in Hockey Program and promoting healthy relationships.

“For the past two decades, the WHL has been a leader in the delivery of respect education programming,” Kennedy said. “I am encouraged by the commitment the Western Hockey League has given to their Respect in Hockey program.

“I am even more encouraged to see the open mindedness and willingness to engage players as part of the solution. I believe the goal has to be to build a confidence/accountability in regard to all forms of maltreatment and mental health to not only know how to approach someone if they look like they may be struggling, but also to have the confidence to step up and step in when they see the line being crossed or someone being hurt. What I know is that these skills are taught, and it takes everyone involved to commit to learning. So far, that’s what encourages me the most, the buy in from all.”

The WHL Respect in Hockey Program is designed to educate players on consent, healthy relationships, resiliency, and the risks of bullying, hazing, harassment, and abuse. All players are required to complete an on-line respect education seminar. All WHL players and staff are also required to be certified through the Respect in Sport Activity Leader or Respect in the Workplace programs administered by the Respect Group.

In addition to the online educational components of the Respect in Hockey program, each WHL Club will conduct a series of Respect Champion workshops to receive continuing education and be tasked with facilitating further conversations pertaining to respect with players and staff. This season the Respect Champion workshops will focus on consent and healthy relationships; diversity and mental health / resiliency.

The WHL Respect in Hockey programming, which is mandatory for all WHL Clubs, will be introduced prior to the start of the WHL season with programming to be delivered throughout the course of the season.

WHL Security Network
Established in 2014, the WHL Security Network is responsible to assist WHL Clubs with enforcing the Code of Conduct and ensuring Clubs continue to deliver a safe and positive environment at all times.

The WHL Security Network consists of Liaison Officers assigned to each WHL Club. The head of the Security Network is former Calgary Police Service Superintendent, Kevan Stuart. The Liaison Officers assist Club management with team security plans and delivery of the Police Impact presentation to further educate players on the risks associated with being a high profile athlete in the community.

Established prior to the 2015-16 WHL season in collaboration with the Calgary Police Service and other police services in the WHL region, the Police Impact program covers subject matter such as consent, social media, the risk of drugs, alcohol, and gambling, diversity and leadership.

“The WHL Security Network and all Club Liaison Officers act as another support system for WHL Players,” said Kevan Stuart, head of the WHL Security Network. “As a key member of each Club, the Liaison Officer serve to further educate and promote the importance of being positive role models in the community through the Police Impact Program. Our responsibility is to ensure players understand the risks associated with being high-profile athletes and the positive impact they can have on their communities where they live and play.”

WHL players, staff, and other personnel associated with the WHL are held accountable through a series of policies and regulations, including the WHL Personal Conduct Policy. All WHL personnel must conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times and not act in a manner detrimental to the integrity of the WHL. Furthermore, all WHL personnel are also required to comply with the WHL Code of Conduct.

Failure to comply with the accepted WHL standard of conduct will result in the WHL taking immediate disciplinary action, or where required, matters will be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

Patrick Nogier appointed Chair of the New Player Advisory Council
The WHL Player Advisory Council will offer WHL players and staff with access to an independent complaint channel, in the event they need to report any form of maltreatment or abuse.

The WHL Player Advisory Council Chair, Patrick Nogier is a current Superintendent with the City of Saskatoon Police Service. Nogier is a WHL alumni as well as the father of former WHL player Nelson Nogier. Nogier will be assisted on the Player Advisory Council by two other WHL alumni.

“I’m pleased and honored to play a role on the Players Advisory Council and look forward to working with the other members of the committee to provide yet another mechanism for players, coaches, and WHL personnel to report and deal with violations of conduct,” said Supt. Nogier.  “The foundation of the Players Advisory Council is structured around ethics, integrity, and professionalism to ensure that allegations of inappropriate conduct are thoroughly addressed in a timely fashion.”

The Player Advisory Council will review all complaints received through an independent complaint channel before determining next steps.

In the event of a criminal matter, the incident will be reported immediately to local police authorities. The WHL and member Club concerned will cooperate fully with the police investigation.

Should any WHL personnel not cooperate with police, WHL internal or independent investigation, the individual(s) concerned will be suspended immediately by the WHL.

Other Policies & Programs
The WHL has a series of policies and regulations in place that are designed to maintain a safe and positive environment for all participants, including a zero-tolerance policy on any form of abuse, bullying, harassment, or hazing:

 Racial Derogatory Comments Policy / Regulation

  • Abuse, Bullying, Harassment, and Hazing Policy / Regulation
  • Social Media and Networking Policy / Education
  • Personal Conduct Policy / Regulation
  • Diversity and Inclusion Policy / Regulation

All WHL players, staff, and other personnel are required to sign a WHL Standard of Conduct Acknowledgement Form, confirming they are aware of the WHL Policies and Regulations that apply in this area.

About the Western Hockey League
Regarded as the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players, the Western Hockey League (WHL) head office is based in Calgary, Alberta. The WHL consists of 22 member Clubs with 17 located in Western Canada and five in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. A member of the Canadian Hockey League, the WHL has been a leading supplier of talent for the National Hockey League for over 50 years. The WHL is also the leading provider of hockey scholarships with over 375 graduates each year receiving WHL Scholarships to pursue a post-secondary education of their choice. Each season, WHL players also form the nucleus of Canada’s National Junior Hockey Team.

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