Andrea Skinner has tendered her resignation as interim chair of the Hockey Canada Board of Directors.
The embattled national sports organization Saturday night confirmed Skinner’s intention to step down as both chairman and board member. Her upcoming departure from Hockey Canada comes after additional corporate sponsors and provincial organizations withdrew their support from the national body.
Skinner joined the Hockey Canada Board of Directors as a volunteer in November 2020. She took on the role of interim chair in August after Michael Brind’Amour resigned from that role following widespread criticism for his handling of allegations of a gang rape involving the men’s junior national team in 2018.
“I am grateful to the members of Hockey Canada for electing me to the board and giving me the opportunity to make positive change for our game and for Hockey Canada,” Skinner said in a statement released by the organization on Saturday .
Hockey Canada has come under fire since May when it emerged that a woman alleged in a $3.55 million lawsuit that she was subsequently sexually assaulted by eight players, including members of the men’s junior team , an undisclosed severance payment was made at a 2018 gala in London, Ontario.
Allegations of sexual assault by gangs involving the 2003 junior world team surfaced in July.
None of the allegations were proven in court.
When government officials and the media investigated Hockey Canada’s handling of the 2018 allegations, it emerged that the governing body had maintained two separate funds to pay for sexual assault settlements. The registration fees for players – mainly from children – were the source of the two funds.
The federal government suspended its funding of Hockey Canada following the allegations, and several of its biggest sponsors suspended or ended their relationship with the national sports governing body.
Skinner vigorously defended Hockey Canada executives earlier this week when she appeared alongside Brind’Amour via video before Members of Parliament at a Canadian Heritage Standing Committee meeting in Ottawa.
She insisted hockey should not be made a “scapegoat” or “centerpiece” for a toxic culture that exists elsewhere in society, citing politicians accused of sexual misconduct during Tuesday’s hearing.
Following this hearing, the provincial amateur hockey associations began withholding their player dues from Hockey Canada.
Hockey NL was the last provincial authority to withhold its fees.
That organization said in a statement posted to its website on Friday that it will not submit its $3-per-player entry fee to Hockey Canada while the national governing body undergoes an independent review.
Hockey New Brunswick also said Friday it would withhold the charges after similar steps were taken by provincial hockey associations in Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia.
“Having thought about it, it is clear to me from recent events that there is no longer any point in me continuing to volunteer my time as interim chair or as director of the organization,” Skinner wrote in Saturday’s statement.
Skinner, a Toronto attorney, said she was “gratified” for the opportunity to work with people at the organization “despite recent challenges.”
“I truly appreciate the support I’ve received from many Canadians, especially women, who also strive to make a positive impact on the game and the sport,” Skinner said.
At Tuesday’s parliamentary committee meeting, Skinner and Brind’Amour were asked why Hockey Canada President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Smith had not been fired.
“Frankly, our board does not share the view that senior executives should be replaced on the basis of what we believe to be significant misinformation and overly cynical attacks,” Skinner had said.
Canada’s Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Victims’ Rights Advocate Sheldon Kennedy have said that to allow for a culture shift in the organization and regain public trust, Hockey Canada’s current leadership must resign.
Trudeau suggested Thursday that a new national hockey governing body may need to be created to replace Hockey Canada.
“There has to be an overall shift, they have to do it, they have to realize that if we have to start an organization — get rid of Hockey Canada — and instead start an organization called Canada Hockey, people are going to take care of it,” Trudeau said reporters in Ottawa.
“There is a lack of understanding that they have lost the trust of Canadians. The sooner they get there, the better it will be for everyone.”