Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Marian Jacko did have some hesitations, but, in the end, the member of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory on Manitoulin Island in Ontario decided that she would put her name forward to continue serving on Hockey Canada’s Board of Directors.
Jacko had been appointed to an interim Hockey Canada board last December. A brand new board was selected to serve an 11-month stint. Previous board members had all resigned last October following widespread criticism about the board’s handling of high-profile incidents of sexual violence by players off the ice.
Jacko put in countless hours serving as an interim director, and also as part of four of the association’s committees this past year.
Jacko was a member of the CEO search committee. And she was also on the governance, women’s and girls’ hockey, and people and culture (human resources) committees.
“It was just so jam packed,” Jacko said of her work.
For the most part there were weekly three-hour meetings. At times she attended meetings that lasted two and three days, sometimes upwards of 14 hours per day.
And then committee work was separate from that.
Jacko was balancing her board work with her high-pressure job serving as the assistant deputy attorney general for the Indigenous Justice division of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General.
Yet she decided she would like to continue serving as a Hockey Canada director. So, she threw her name into the hat again and was re-elected to the board at Hockey Canada’s annual meeting held Nov. 18 in Montreal.
Jacko will now serve a two-year term with the board.
And she will continue to provide an Indigenous viewpoint on the board.
Prior to her time on Hockey Canada’s interim board, Jacko served as Children’s Lawyer for Ontario, becoming the first Indigenous person to hold that position. The experience in that role is something that she’s proud to continue bringing to the table.
“Every opportunity I could, I tried even just sharing our (Indigenous) perspectives and worldviews on some things,” Jacko said. “I think it was really beneficial. And I think (other board members) found it beneficial because they told me it was.”
Jacko said one of the reasons she decided to seek re-election with the Hockey Canada board was because some high-ranking officials told her that her upcoming term would not be as time-consuming as her first term.
“This past year we were really in crisis management, trying to maneuver through a sensitive and delicate situation,” she said. “I don’t think it will be the same for the next two years.”
Jacko is confident she will be able to be a part of plenty of decisions that will be of benefit to those playing the sport across the country.
Jacko’s Hockey Canada re-election also forced an emergency meeting with the executive of the Little Native Hockey League tournament on Nov. 19.
Before being appointed to the Hockey Canada board last December, Jacko served as the president of the tourney, often simply called the Little NHL.
The event, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary next March, has become the largest Indigenous youth hockey tournament in Ontario.
Since Hockey Canada regulations prevent directors from serving with another hockey organization, Jacko took a leave of absence as tournament president last December.
Jacko had suggested to the members of the Little NHL executive at their Nov. 19 meeting that it would probably be best to appoint a new president.
“I didn’t think it’s fair that the leave of absence be extended,” she said.
But the other executive members thought otherwise. And they voted to extend her leave of absence as president for the next two years.
Jacko said as long as she is not involved in any decision-making processes, she will be able to serve as a volunteer for the Little NHL while being a Hockey Canada director.
Jacko is one of three members from Hockey Canada’s interim board that were re-elected as directors this past weekend.
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