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Report says Quebec hockey player forced to mimic George Floyd

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GATINEAU, Que. — Quebec Sports Minister Isabelle Charest says she was "deeply shocked" by a report that a young Black hockey player in the province was made to say, "I can't breathe," as a teammate knelt on his neck.

The racist incident drew on the words uttered by George Floyd, a Black man who died while a white police officer in Minneapolis pressed a knee to his neck in May 2020, sparking protests around the world.

According to a report in Gatineau, Que., daily Le Droit, a teammate placed his knee on the back of the Black teenager's neck for about 15 seconds, only releasing him after he spoke the words.

The newspaper obtained a report commissioned by Hockey Quebec that outlined the incident — just one of several during the 2021-22 season involving the under-15 AAA team on which the Black child played.

The independent report dated last December found at least 14 "racist gestures and remarks" involving six players from the Gatineau team, targeting two racialized youth.

The newspaper says the victims ultimately left the team after the events, and the players who made the gestures were suspended.

A separate report was critical of the way the matter was handled by team officials.

On Friday, Hockey Quebec, which had previously announced an investigation into the allegations of racism, said the report is confidential and declined to provide a copy or comment further on the matter.

Charest called the players' behaviour "completely unacceptable" in a comment Friday on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter.

"Deeply shocked by what I read," she said. "Such actions should not be tolerated in a hockey locker room or anywhere else. We work hard to provide our athletes with a healthy and safe environment."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2023.