Oilers' Ethan Bear Responds to Racist Remarks: I'm Here to Stand Up to This Behavior

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 26, 2021

Edmonton Oilers' Ethan Bear (74) during an NHL hockey game, Monday, May 3, 2021, in Vancouver, Canada. (AP Photo/Nick Didlick)
AP Photo/Nick Didlick

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Ethan Bear responded to the racist remarks he received after his team was swept in the first round of the NHL playoffs by the Winnipeg Jets.

Edmonton Oilers @EdmontonOilers

"I'm here to stand up to this behaviour... I'm proud of where I come from. I'm proud to be from Ochapowace First Nation. I'm not just doing this for myself. I'm doing this for all people of colour &amp; for the next generation."<br><br>Ethan Bear's statement in response to racist comments. pic.twitter.com/3CK6DENnHC

"I'm here to stand up to this behavior," he said. "I'm proud of where I come from. I'm proud to be from Ochapowace First Nation. I'm not just doing this for myself. I'm doing this for all people of color and for the next generation."

The video response comes after Lenasia Ned, who is Bear's girlfriend, said that Bear was the target of racist messages after the playoff loss:

Courtney Theriault @cspotweet

Ethan Bear's girlfriend shared this post after she said he received racist messages on his social media - adding that he appreciates the love and support from everyone else. #yeg #oilers #LetsGoOilers pic.twitter.com/7uwHShsHlj

Thomas Williams of Yahoo Sports noted Bear's line change in triple overtime of Game 4 helped lead to Winnipeg's series-clinching goal.

Edmonton lost three of the four games against the Jets in overtime periods, underscoring how much closer the series was than the sweep indicated.

"Totally uncalled for, totally unacceptable," Oilers general manager Ken Holland told reporters when speaking about the racism directed at Bear. "It's disgusting. There's no place in our world for racism."

Holland also described what an "unbelievable young man" the 23-year-old defenseman is and pointed to the work he does in the community as a "tremendous role model."

The Oilers also released a statement:

"The Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club is disappointed in these disgusting, cowardly and racist remarks. While we have witnessed progress in the area of equality and inclusion, this reprehensible behaviour demonstrates we still have significant work to do. Ethan Bear is an incredibly skilled hockey player and a beloved teammate. His community-minded efforts both here in Edmonton and in Saskatchewan represent the qualities any organization could possibly ask of its members.
"These comments also fly in the face of the work the organization has done to embrace reconciliation and build a strong and positive relationship with our Indigenous community. We call upon everyone in Oil Country to stand up to racism, call out hatred and do their part in making our community one of acceptance, inclusion and respect."

The NHL offered support as well:


Ethan Bear represents both our game and his Indigenous heritage with dignity and pride. He, and all people from Indigenous backgrounds, deserve to feel empowered and respected on and off the ice. We stand with Ethan and his family in denouncing hate. pic.twitter.com/BQazdfjS1B

Williams pointed out that "Bear is one of the few active Indigenous NHL players and the only one on the Oilers."

Bear, who once wore a jersey with Cree syllabics on his nameplate in an exhibition game, appeared in 43 games this season and finished with eight points on two goals and six assists.

He did not register a point in his team's four playoff games.