Hockey Canada, rebuilding trust after recent abuse scandals, has appointed human rights leader Irfan Chaudhry as a first vice-president ©Irfan Chaudhry

Hockey Canada, which changed its entire Board of Directors last year following criticism over its handling of sexual assault allegations, has announced that renowned diversity, inclusion and human rights leader Irfan Chaudhry has been hired as its first vice-president, diversity and inclusion.

Chaudhry, due to take up his new role on April 12, joins Hockey Canada from MacEwan University, where he was most recently the institution’s director of the office of human rights, diversity, and equity.

In addition to his position at MacEwan, Chaudhry volunteers as a Board member for the Edmonton Police Commission, participates in Public Safety Canada’s Expert Committee on Countering Radicalisation to Violence, sits on the Alberta Hate Crimes Committee and is an advisor to the Canadian Council of Muslim Women.

“Having Irfan join Hockey Canada is a significant addition to our organisation, and we are excited to have him lead the development of a vision and strategy to create and sustain a culture within hockey that embraces and promotes equity, diversity and inclusion,” said Denise Pattyn, Hockey Canada's enior vice-president of people, culture and inclusion.

"His accomplishments and wealth of knowledge and experience in higher education and sport will be incredibly valuable to Hockey Canada, and we look forward to welcoming him in April."

Irfan Chaudhry was earlier this year awarded the Queen's Platinum Jubilee medal for his contribution to Alberta ©Irfan Chaudhry
Irfan Chaudhry was earlier this year awarded the Queen's Platinum Jubilee medal for his contribution to Alberta ©Irfan Chaudhry

The founder of Grow the Game, a hub for anti-racism resources for the hockey community, Chaudhry was presented with the Emerging Leadership Award by the Canadian Association for the Prevention of Discrimination and Harassment in Higher Education in 2018, and recently was awarded the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee medal in recognition of his significant contribution to Alberta.

Since 2022, Chaudhry has been a member of the Hockey Canada Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group, which supports the implementation of the organisation’s equity, diversity and inclusion strategic plan, and provides consultation and feedback to accelerate diversity and inclusion goals and monitor outcomes.

"It is an honour to join the team at Hockey Canada," said Chaudhry.

"This is an exciting time of transformation for the sport, and I am looking forward to continue the foundational work of the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group and build a true culture of inclusion within Hockey Canada as well as the broader hockey ecosystem throughout the country."

In his new position, Chaudhry will be a member of Hockey Canada’s senior leadership team, and based in Edmonton.

Hockey Canada was one of a number of Canadian sporting organisations that drew persistent criticism over its record on sexual assault allegations and general welfare issues.

The entire Board of Directors, including interim chair Andre Skinner, quit in October after months of pressure,

Chief executive and President Scott Smith also resigned with immediate effect, while Michael Brind'Amour had already stood down as chair in August.

One of the most pressing issues was the revelation that Hockey Canada had settled a case for CAD$3.55 million (£2.11 million/$2.57 million/€2.42 million) with a woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted by members of Canada's junior national team in 2018.

Investigations into the incident are currently in process with law enforcement also looking into an alleged group sexual assault committed by members of Canada's 2003 junior national team.

Human rights leader Irfan Chaudhry has been hired by Hockey Canada as its first vice-president, diversity and inclusion ©Getty Images
Human rights leader Irfan Chaudhry has been hired by Hockey Canada as its first vice-president, diversity and inclusion ©Getty Images

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge were among those who spoke out against the governing body’s treatment of allegations of sexual misconduct.

Access to public funds was frozen for Hockey Canada as a result and the fact that membership fees were used to settle lawsuits sparked additional outcry.

Recently Hockey Canada announced a renewed and expanded commitment to preventative education in safe sport through a multi-year partnership extension with Respect Group, continuing a longstanding relationship between the organisations to make hockey safer at all levels of the game.

Through this investment, Hockey Canada will work with Respect Group to collaborate and develop new, age-appropriate player programmes, while optimising the delivery of existing Respect Group online training courses with the Hockey Canada Member Branches.

In a statement, Hockey Canada claimed it "recognises there is still work to be done to drive cultural change in the game, and the partnership extension with Respect Group reflects an organisational commitment to create safe and respectful environments for participants to enjoy the sport from grassroots to high performance…

"In its first two months, the new Hockey Canada Board of Directors has met for over 80 hours and continues to work extensively with stakeholders to restore confidence and trust in the organisation."