Hockey Canada announced on Monday that all national team players, coaches and support staff involved in the 2020-21 season will participate in mandatory virtual diversity and inclusion seminars.

The initiative will begin this week before the start of virtual summer camps, which includes the men’s under-17, under-18 and under-20 teams, women’s under-18, development and senior teams, as well as Canada’s National Para Hockey Team.

“Mandatory diversity and inclusion seminars for Hockey Canada’s national teams are a critical first step in making the hockey community more enjoyable, inclusive and safe for all those who wish to participate,” said Scott Salmond, senior vice-president of national teams for Hockey Canada in a statement. “As our program delivery evolves, we will continue to determine the most appropriate ways to include mandatory sessions on various topics.

"We believe these diversity and inclusion seminars will be valuable for all players and staff, and we look forward to educating ourselves on these important issues.”

Hockey Canada added that the seminars will be delivered by Tina Varughese, a professional speaker and trainer specializing in diversity and inclusion, and will have a specific focus on unconscious bias.

Varughese, an Indo-Canadian of first-generation East Indian parents who lives in Calgary, and has worked extensively with the Province of Alberta’s immigration office. She was named one of Canada’s Top 10 Notable Speakers by Ignite Magazine and is the president of t Works Inc., a company that specializes in cross-cultural communication and work-life balance seminars, and provides customized cultural diversity training to the public and private sectors.

“Hockey Canada is fortunate to have Tina Varughese deliver four important, impactful presentations on unconscious bias to approximately 400 players, coaches and support staff as part of our summer camp program delivery,” said Tom Renney, chief executive officer of Hockey Canada in a staetment. “Tina will be an incredible resource for all participants, and we believe our teams and athletes will benefit greatly from her knowledge and expertise as we continue to educate our players and develop world-class individuals.”