EDMONTON — Minnesota Wild defenceman Matt Dumba auctioned off a pair of skates painted by his brother that illustrate his fight against racism and for more diversity in hockey.
The skates, painted by Dumba’s brother Kyle, are covered in a bright blue inspired by George Floyd’s mural in Minneapolis.
They also feature Dumba’s favourite restaurants, a tattoo shop, and his yellow Ford Mustang. BLM for Black Lives Matter is on both holders along with “Hockey Needs More Colour” on the side of one skate.
Dumba, who played for the Red Deer Rebels, said he trusted his brother with the design of the skates and let him have artistic freedom.
“I just knew he knew my vision for the skates,” said Dumba. “We just wanted to tie in things about diversity and stuff that I’ve been doing in the game.”
Advocating for diversity in the sport of hockey is important to Dumba, who is one of seven players who formed the Hockey Diversity Alliance with a mission “to eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey.”
Dumba revealed he experienced racism growing up playing hockey.
“You get micro-aggression and micro-racism all the time, and I’ve had my hand full of cases of flat out racism as well.”
He consistently talks to kids going through a similar situation. Many of them, he said, quit the sport at a young age after experiencing racism.
“When you see a kid demoralized and has just lost interest in the game because of it, it breaks my heart,” said Dumba.
“Hockey has given so much to me and my family. I just want to share all the lessons, sense of belonging, being on a team…just invaluable stuff to grow up with. It’s a shame that not everyone gets to be included in that.”
The former Rebel believes education is the way to fight racism in hockey.
“When we can define that there is no tolerance for this in our game and make a stand and hold everyone accountable, not only the kids, but the parents, the coaches, the board members, the evaluators, the refs, everyone accountable. I think it’s even more important to have them than the kids because the kids learn it from somewhere.”
The skates were auctioned off for $5,225 and the money raised will go to the Lake Street Council in Minneapolis, which is helping rebuild the small businesses along Lake Street.
“When you drive through it, the devastation and everything is pretty crazy. You’re kind of speechless, but at the same time, there’s an underlying sense of strength and community because people are coming together and helping rebuild that area.”