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Women's Shinny Stories 2010-2011
Greenwood Rink 2010: Help from Parks enforcing women's shinny time
Saturday Dec.11 2010

Women's shinny report: At Greenwood outdoor shinny this Sat AM, some boys came on and gave us a little trouble- I connected with the rink staff staff and a William Coombs , Parks foreperson, gave me his card after intervening on our behalf (told the boys to wait until their turn at noon) and told me to call as soon as it happens next time. We were impressed and felt well treated.

Hodgson Rink 2010-2011: Scheduling and ice maintenance for women's shinny

Sunday December 5 2010 - Email from rink user T.F.

I was just wondering if you know who I can contact about the times for women's shinny at Hodgson. I went today at 6:30pm and the lights were off and it was locked up. Both your website and the City of Toronto website says that on Sundays they have women's shinny from 6:30-8pm. I called 311 before I went and they told me the rink was open and women's shinny was at 6:30. I'm just not sure who else to contact to get info on the right times.

Email 5 Dec. from CityRinks to Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation staff Wendy Jang and Dave Hains, Deirdre Norman of Women of Winter, and T.F.:

Any ideas who can figure out what's not working here? T.F., that must have been frustrating. I've cc'd Deirdre Norman here too, since she has a big interest in women's shinny citywide.

Email response, 6 Dec. from Wendy Jang, cc CityRinks

I do know we had mechanical problems with this rink and were not able to open as planned on November 27th. Perhaps there was another mechanical break down - don't know but we'll find out and report back. Thanks for letting us know about your experience.... ....apparently [a staff member] responded this morning to advise that the Zamboni had mechanical problems.

January 27, 2011, e-mail from Deirdre Norman to Recreation supervisor Kelly McInnnes

I get asked a lot of questions about shinny times and when I was at Hodgson the staff and the skating instructor were a little unclear about the schedule. I think there has been some confusion about the end time because players thought it went until 9:30 pm and ice maintenance was happening at 9:00 or 9:15 and then the rink was closing.

So my question is, what time does Hodgson close on Sunday? Is it 9:00 pm? Or is that the end of the program and open shinny goes for another hour?

February 1, 2011, e-mail from Recreation supervisor Kelly McInnnes

Adult Beginner Shinny is definitely until 9:30pm on Sundays. Ice maintenance should not happen until after 9:30.

February 1, 2011, e-mail from Deirdre Norman to Recreation supervisor Kelly McInnnes

Thanks for that information. As I mentioned the maintenance has been happening at 9:00 or 9:15 and while that isn't a lot of time, every minute counts when it is our outdoor ice!

February 1, 2011, e-mail from Recreation supervisor Kelly McInnnes

I agree with you. I'll ensure it doesn't happen again.

Monarch Park Rink 2010-2011: Aggressive behaviour and need for enforcement of women's shinny time
E-mail from S.B., Dec. 12 2010

I was at Monarch last Tuesday night and it was me and 16 men for women's shinny time. I didn't ask anyone to vacate, as I was the only woman, but the men didn't seem to know that it was a women's time slot. No scheds posted.

E-mail from several rink users, January 12 2011, addressed to Parks supervisor Bill Coombs, cc cityrinks.ca (later forwarded to recreation manager Kelvin Seow and Recreation Director Janie Romoff)

There was an altercation at the Monarch Park Arena last night that required the presence of 8 police officers. The incident took place during the two hour period allotted to women's shinny hockey. The officers I spoke with have asked me, as the person who made the call to 911, to follow up with the City and work with you to create new policies and procedures for how women's shinny is communicated at Monarch and if necessary, other arenas.

Here's what happened. About 10 women showed up last night to play at 8pm. The slot for women's hockey is from 8-10pm. There were men on the ice playing at 8:05, and they had to be asked by the employee at the rink to vacate. They did, yet several lingered around the ice waiting to see if we had reached a maximum of 10 players. If not, their intention was to use half of the rink. I am new to women's shinny hockey at Monarch, so I am not sure if this is a precedent that has been set wherein they (males) count the players for women's shinny and determine (on their own) if there are enough women to warrant a full rink. From my understanding from the rink supervisor, the police and the city, the rink is reserved for women players regardless of whether there are 2 or 25 players. This is not the understanding on the part of the "regulars" at the rink. As one officer commented to me, there needs to be very clearly communicated messaging around this, followed up by strict enforcement on behalf of the City and the rink.

As play began, there were continual attempts on the part of the males to get access to our game, and to the rink. On several occasions we had to ask one or more to leave the rink, or explain that this was women's shinny hockey time. By 9pm, half of the women left. I know that many felt exhausted and intimidated and/or unwilling to deal with the hassle of having to justify their ice time when all they wanted to do was come out for exercise and fun on a winters night.

That left 5 players on the ice and increasing insistence on behalf of the men/teenage boys that they were now justified to use half of the rink. They flooded onto it. I had to ask the rink employee to ask them to leave, mentioning that it was still women's shinny time, and that we still had an hour to play. This is when things escalated. One man in his 40s, and his 16 year old son, were very angry about having to leave the rink and they stood at the entrance to the rink yelling expletives (the 'c' word and the 'b' word) as well as insults and hateful comments to the remaining now four players (myself included) who were attempting to enjoy the final hour of play. Things got so heated that I had to call 911 and as the recorded call illustrates, the aggression on behalf of the 40 year old father, was especially vitriolic. He could be heard swearing and using hateful language throughout the 911 call. He insisted it was "free speech" yet the 911 operator told me to inform him that his language was a "hate crime". She could hear it loud and clear.

The 8 officers arrived and took reports. The 40 year old father was just as belligerent with them, using all of the language he used with us. The rest has been documented by staff at the rink and in a police report. One of the officers asked me to follow up with the city to let you know that there needs to be much stronger communication and enforcement in regards to women's shinny at this rink. The residents of the area that use the rink regularly must be informed of the fact that these two hours are non-negotiable and completely reserved for women's shinny regardless of how many players show up. I know that the incident last night was very intimidating to players and it would be a shame if women began to stay away from shinny hockey simply because they want to avoid altercations like the one that took place last night. The rinks are to be shared, and there is precious little time available to women's shinny as it is.

E-mail from Women of Winter Shinny Hockey convener Deirdre Norman to Recreation manager Kelvin Seow, 9.50 a.m.

I had hoped that my first email of the season would be one saying what a wonderful shinny season we are having. Instead I am emailing regarding the unfortunate situation at Monarch Park rink.

When you and I spoke last year about the harassment and abuse that we, as women shinny players, experience I am not sure you were convinced of the veracity of my concerns until the situation at Ramsden. Your response to that was swift, appropriate and permanent. (Ramsden is having a great season and the staff are very supportive of the women players).

Kelvin, what happened at Monarch Park takes the gender harassment to a whole new level. We can all be grateful that a violent, physical assault was not part of the equation. I don’t think I need to say (but will anyway) that women must not be made to be afraid to be play shinny on City rinks, that it is your responsibility as Supervisor to ensure that all community members can enjoy the programs that are provided and that this situation is addressed immediately.

I know that you have received an email and are aware of the details of the incident on Tuesday Jan. 12.

This is exactly what one might expect when a large, open-access City facility is left to be managed by a single, inadequately (for this kind of not uncommon situation) trained youth. This rink has a history of problems related to inappropriate community use and adding a vulnerable component (women programs at night) to the mix without the proper support only increases the potential for something to go drastically wrong.

I, as a rink user and as a woman shinny player, am asking that you take immediate action to guarantee our safety at Monarch Park rink.

· That staff with experience and maturity are in charge of the programs and the facility, especially at night when they are most needed.

· That PFR resources are used to develop community and/or outreach programs at Monarch Park which is obviously an at-risk community.

· That staff receive further training and support for dealing with aggressive, potentially dangerous situations.

· That appropriate signage is posted with all program/permit times listed.

· That, if it is not already up, the Code of Behaviour is displayed prominently and enforced.

· According to the Code of Behaviour posted at rinks, “All programs and permits must be respected”, and “No foul, offensive or racist (can we add sexist?) language ….” should be used. It also says that rink staff must be respected.

Most immediately, I am asking that extra staff and a Supervisor are present next Tuesday when we have our ice time; that our program time is available and respected.

E-mail from Recreation manager Kelvin Seow, January 14 2011, 9.37 a.m., to the women present on January 11.

Thank you for taking the time to inform me about your experience at Monarch Park Artificial Ice Rink on Tuesday, January 11, 2011. I was dismayed to hear that male hockey players were behaving in an intimidating and abusive manner towards the female hockey players, and that you were compelled to call 911 to receive assistance from the police. You were absolutely justified in your action, and we are grateful that the police responded in a timely fashion. We are very sorry that our rink staff were not able to support you more fully.

I would like to advise you of the action that has been taken to ensure that your next visit to the Women's Shinny Hockey program at Monarch Park AIR will be more satisfactory:

1) We are investigating the incident with our staff and the police, and hope to be able to identify the aggressive leaders of the conflict, and to formally address their behaviour.

2) We will be giving direction to our rink staff to ensure that the male hockey players have vacated the rink prior to the start of the Women's Shinny Hockey time (8 pm) to allow the women to have an undisturbed access to the rink for the full 2 hours. Our policy is to allow full access to the ice by women for the entire 2 hours; there is no expectation for the women to "share" the ice with the men if there are only a few female players.

3) We have requested the presence of our mobile security unit to provide additional support to the rink staff in order to clear the rink for the women's program.

4) We will be issuing directives to staff at all of the other Toronto and East York rinks to ensure that they are following the same procedures. We do not know why the men expected the women to "share" the ice, but that is not the policy of Parks, Forestry and Recreation, and is not the approved practice at any other city location.

E-mail from CityRinks to Recreation manager Kelvin Seow, Jan.14 2011

I've been getting copies of these various e-mails and have posted the original description on the Monarch Rink page. I've heard that you did send a response -- would it be possible for you to forward it to me so I can post it -- showing that management is working on this situation?

We'll do updates next Tuesday, others have been sending reports as well.

Monday January 17 2011, e-mail from S.W.

Creating a proper time-spread and means of shifting overflow between rinks in the general area might help us get around the ugly scene that happened last week. There's way too much demand for men's shinny in evenings and on weekends, and a shortage of demand for other uses at many other times. Coordinating schedules with Kew Gardens and Withrow might improve a time spread.

E-mail from Recreation manager Kelvin Seow, Jan.18 2011

I have been advised my correspondence with residents regarding their issues and concerns is considered privileged and/or confidential, and I am instructed not to waive any related rights for use or distribution, and the email is intended only for the recipient(s). Any other use is unauthorized.

E-mail from CityRinks to Recreation manager Kelvin Seow, Jan.18 2011

We'll follow up to get some further copyright clarifications.

This is an important issue for transparency re issues that are brought up by park users/rink users. It's good that you've raised it in this very clear wording.

E-mail from Recreation Director Janie Romoff, Jan.18 2011

we agree it's important to be transparent on this issue, and want to insure that others are aware of our response that so that similar incidents can be avoided. After the skate tonight we will be issuing some information to Jutta for public posting. Thanks for your patience as we work through this.

Ramsden Rink 2010-2011: Enforcement of women's shinny time

January 12 2010, e-mail from T.K. to CityRinks

I went to Ramsden last night (Monday) in hopes of catching some beginner women's shinny, but the hockey pad was occupied by a very fast-paced, advanced group of guys. I and a couple of other women who showed up for the same thing were told by the staff person there that the schedule on the City website is wrong and there is no women's slot on Mondays, but there is one on Tuesdays (at the same time, 7-9, as I understood). I am not even sure if this information is correct, but perhaps you may know whom to contact to get a certain answer and amend your online schedule as necessary. It is pretty irritating that the City posts an erroneous schedule and then does not bother to fix it. This is a good way to kill a women's slot: first post a wrong schedule, and then when no one shows up on the "right" date claim that women are not interested in playing shinny, so ice time should be taken away from them. If you could let me know whom I could contact to have this fixed, it would be helpful.

January 13 2010, e-mail from D.C. to CityRinks:

I called Ramsden Park to verify the time for the Womens Shinny – Beginner and it has moved to Tuesday nights from 7pm – 845pm.

I was there last night and there were about 5 women and mostly men playing during our time. The shinny game started out friendly but got more aggressive and fast.

January 13 2010, e-mail from CityRinks to Recreation Supervisor Tino DeCastro:

Can you bring this to the attention of the Ramsden supervisor? The problem now is one of enforcement of the schedule. If it's women's shinny, no men on the ice, right? Otherwise low numbers are guaranteed, as the word gets around.

January 13 2010, D.C. to CityRinks

I just spoke with Peter Lewis and advised him of the situation. He ensured me that the ice is for women and regardless of the number of women on the ice no one else has the time.

He is planning on going to the rink on Thursday and next Tuesday to remind the employees of their responsibility.

January 20, 2010, an e-mail from a rink user to Recreation supervisor Peter Lewis, cc'd to cityrinks

Mr. Lewis

Last night (January 19) I came out to Ramsden Rink to take advantage of the women's shinny time slot. First the good news: It was a huge success. We had 7 women come out to play, almost all of whom were first or second year hockey players - ie true beginners. All the women got to handle the puck a lot, practise their passing skills and shots. All the women said they enjoyed the shinny time immensely and the grins on their faces backed that up.

Now the not so good news: As the zamboni finished cleaning the hockey pad shortly after 7 pm, the guys were lined up to go back inside. When I spoke up and said that it was the women's shinny time slot I was immediately barraged by statements such as "well, how many women are there? The women in the change room said it was okay." And from a parent - "How can you deny my son (I'm guessing the son was round age 6) from playing?" etc etc. At that point I started to look for the rink staff who turned out to be one of the guys in this group - he had nothing visible to identify him as rink staff so I'm taking his word for it. He stated that last week the women had allowed the men to play. I said that was last week, and this week was different, and skated onto the ice.

The guys then remained at the gate to the hockey pad and proceeded to barrage each of the women as they came onto the ice. Literally the women had to run a gauntlet.

As we started our shinny game, the guys moved onto the pleasure skating pad and proceeded to pass the puck around on the pleasure pad. I believe I saw your rink staff person among them. A few of them stood at the fence and continued to argue that they should be allowed on. At one point, I was carrying the puck up the ice and these individuals started boo-ing. The situation pretty much continued until 8:25 when the zamboni came onto the ice again - even though we are scheduled to have the ice until 8:45. And I would have thought that the 15 minute slot between the women's shinny time and the 9 pm permit would have allowed enough time for maintenance. I also noted that all but two of the pleasure skaters left the ice by the time we headed into the change room.

I was also out last Tuesday (January 12) and it was true that we did agree to allow the guys to play with us. However, it was a disaster. The game was quite fast and agressive and the guys basically ignored us. I had left after about 30 minutes, having only touched the puck once or twice. It was completely inappropriate for beginner players - they didn't stand a chance and they gained nothing from the experience. This week was much more successful and simply demonstrates that this time slot is necessary to nurture these beginner players.

But this harrassment, and I do believe that what I've described above falls under the definition of harrassment, has to STOP. I am making you aware of this situation to enlist your help in stopping it.

Thursday January 21, 2010

RamsdenRink.LetterOfDirectionAIRStaff

January 21, 2010, e-mail from Deirdre Norman to Recreation Manager Kelvin Seow

It seems that when the women show up to take their allotted time they are not supported by rink staff and are harassed by the other rink users. The women have experienced verbal and physical intimidation. This is unacceptable at all levels and I am asking for you to take immediate steps to resolve this.

When we experienced similar harassment at Wallace, Tino acted immediately to ensure the safety of the women players as well as providing support for the staff at the rink who perhaps found themselves unsure of how to address the situation. We have never had significant problems since.

In no way is this kind of behaviour acceptable. Women are often too intimidated to come back. As someone who has been physically threatened by other rink users I want to assure you that this is not a misunderstanding. But I also know that it is a problem that can be solved with the right support.

Though I usually skate at Dufferin on Tuesdays I will be at Ramsden next week and I ask that you come out and see what is really going on. I would invite you to join us for a skate but it is women-only!

January 21, 2010, reply from Recreation manager Kelvin Seow to Deirdre Norman

I can assure you I am taking this issue very seriously. The harassment will stop. The type of behaviour that is described in the email is absolutely inappropriate and unacceptable. Rink staff will be provided with clear direction on expectations regarding supporting the women players. We will have a full time staff out to the next women's shinny time slot to provide support. I will also try to come out.

E-mail from F.R. to CityRinks Feb.3 2010

I am writing to let you know what a fun time friends and I had at the women's shinny session at Ramsden park yesterday evening. This is the second week that I've made it out for the Tues evening women's shinny at Ramsden and it has been great both times. There's a good turn-out, at least 15 women, ranging from complete beginners to more experienced players. Everyone plays well together, encouraging the beginner players and making sure that everyone gets involved in the play. There is a really nice friendly atmosphere about the whole evening. As it was snowing while we played the rink staff did a quick scrape of the ice surface with the zamboni halfway through our time while we kept warm in the change area. It pretty much stopped snowing then so we had nice clean ice for the last 45 min. It is really great to be able to play shinny with other women who just want to come out and have some fun and develop their skills. I hope to get back for many more of these Tues evening sessions this year.

Sunday January 31, 2011, Deirdre Norman to Recreation manager Kelvin Seow

I just received this email (below) and am very disappointed. Last year we had the issue where staff at Ramsden were not supportive of the women-only time slots on Tuesdays and you were very supportive of making change there. I thought we were done. Apparently not.

Obviously the attitude shift needs to come from the frontline - the staff. It is one thing to send out protocols and another to have them manifest. Once again this is a frontline staff issue. They must enforce the PFR program times.

I cannot be there on Thursday as I teach a class but I know other women will be there.

Please let me know who you will send to ensure that the rink staff follow PFR protocols and rules.

This seems to be a difficult year for the women to have their playing time but I know you will support us in every way.

On Thursday night I went to Ramsden Park ice rink to play a little hockey (Thursday 9 - 10 p.m. is reserved for women's shinny) and was disturbed to see there were about 30 men, most of them very fast, who took over the ice as soon as the Zamboni was finished. The rink guard's response was simply, "Well, there weren't enough women here so I had to turn it over to the guys." This is a very disappointing attitude, not to mention a self-fulfilling one (ie. any women who did show up would very likely go home).

Rather than phone my city councilor, I thought I would take direct action. Who is willing to join me at Ramsden next Thursday at 8:45 p.m. It's on Yonge across from the Rosedale subway stop. We need a good sized crowd, I think, to reclaim this ice time, one of only two hours per week that are dedicated to women's shinny at Ramsden.

I'm sending this to my hockey friends and also my non-hockey friends. I don't care whether you're any good - if you can stand up on your skates and have access to a stick and helmet, please consider joining us. And forward this to any skating women you know. This is important and it might also be a hell of a lot of fun.

Feb.1 2011, e-mail from Recreation supervisor Kelly McInnis to Deirdre Normn, cc to ice maintenance supervisors Peter White and Scott Atwood

I'm sorry to hear there was a problem at Ramsden last Thursday night. I was at the rink last Tuesday night and introduced myself to several of the shinny women. They informed me that there had been no problems this year and that rink staff have been great at making sure men did not take their ice time. I was very surprised to hear about what happened on Thursday.

We do not have a Rink Guard on duty Thursday nights, as we have been unable to fill that shift; however, I will ensure that my rink co-ordinator visits Ramsden at 8:45pm every Thursday to ensure there are no problems.

I will be at Ramsden this Thursday night.

Feb.3 report from cityrinks.ca

At 8.50 the zamboni driver appeared to be warning the large number of shinny hockey players that they would have to leave if one or more women came for the women's shinny time. One skater in the change room was very vocal about the ridiculous unfairness of allowing women to have their own shinny time, when they could play alongside the men without restriction.

Nine women came, and the men changed into shoes and left. Recreation supervisor Kelly McInnes was there and spoke to the women, and gave them her card in case there was more trouble.

The atmosphere in the change room was unpleasant, not an encouragement to return.


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Content last modified on February 16, 2011, at 11:11 AM EST