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SENATORS’ STATEMENTS — Professional Women's Hockey League

April 17, 2024

She shoots, she scores!

Honourable senators, how many other girls besides me dreamed of hearing those words as we watched Hockey Night in Canada?

Being the eldest of four girls, I had pride of place on the couch next to my father to watch the games. While Dad always told us that one day it would happen, little did I expect it would take 60 years before we would see a women’s professional hockey league in Canada.

By the time my daughter and her friends — like PWHL Ottawa staff member Rachelle Perras — had a league of their own, even girls’ hockey at the rep level was relegated to the worst times and distant rinks while boys’ hockey — or what some parents still referred to as the “real” hockey teams — always took priority. No wonder the league slogan is “Ice Time. Earned.”

The league’s advisory board includes Billie Jean King, one of the first to challenge the second-class treatment of women athletes, and Hockey Hall of Famer Jayna Hefford.

The Ottawa Professional Women’s Hockey League founders include former Olympian Guylaine Bernier, Karin Lofstrom, Shelley Coolidge, Sue MacGregor, Cathy Champion-Demers and Danika Smith. Thanks to the efforts of these women, and so many more, the Ottawa hockey community has a platform dating back to the inaugural Women’s World Championship in 1990 and built on further success in 2013. Simply put, the members of PWHL Ottawa are all game changers.

Just this past week, Ashton Bell, Emily Clark, Brianne Jenner and Emerance Maschmeyer made us all so very proud by winning the World Championship as part of Team Canada. Other teammates played for the U.S., Czechia, Germany and Japan.

Today, fresh from practice, we are pleased to be joined by 14 players and their support team. With us are Zoe Boyd, Emma Buckles, Sammy Davis, Kristin Della Rovere, Rosalie Demers, Becca Gilmore, Gabbie Hughes, Sam Isbell, Rachel McQuigge, Jincy Roese, Malia Schneider, Natalie Snodgrass, Audrey-Anne Veilette and Daryl Watts.

The support in Ottawa for girls and women in sport and leadership is what defines the community and contributes to the Ottawa team’s success. In this debut season, media coverage and attendance at every sold-out home game in Ottawa have been fabulous — Montreal and Toronto have been okay too.

As one of the founders shared:

The first game brought tears to the eyes of generations of players and organizers who came before and helped to realize the dreams of thousands of little girls.

To all of you, we say thank you for relegating to the pages of misogynistic history and elevating to new heights the call, “Play like a girl!” Go, Ottawa, go!

Thank you.

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