TRURO, N.S. – There’s an old cliché about being in the right place at the right time.
And I was fortunate to be at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre Friday, April6, when I got to meet RCMP Const. Blair Dole.
We took part in an early morning puck-dropping ceremony as part of
Day of Champions, under the direction of Hockey Nova Scotia. After the faceoff between two keen young centres, Dole, his wife Patricia and I joined Hockey Nova Scotia officials in a skybox near centre ice. During the game, we talked to each other as well as hockey officials.
Dole, with the Halifax District RCMP, works under Sgt. Joe Taplin, who, when growing up in Truro, was an outstanding all-around athlete, excelling especially in football.
Dole has another interesting connection to Truro – RCMP Cpl. Dal Hutchinson, the son of former well-known local hockey player, ball player and coach John Hutchinson. Dole and Hutchinson work closely together with the RCMP’s strategic communications section.
Dole displays an exceptional gift of reaching out to people and you could sense there might be more to the picture than you were seeing.
Talking to Darren Cossar, the executive director of Hockey Nova Scotia, verified just that.
“This RCMP officer has quite a story,” Cossar said. “He has started something which is helping a lot of young people, it’s a campaign against bullying. The name of it is the Pink Tape Campaign.”
Cossar said Dole would also travel from the metro area to Truro both Saturday and Sunday to take part in puck-dropping ceremonies. And, before each game, just as he did on Friday, Dole would go to the dressing rooms of the two teams and give a talk. The point is, three trips to Truro, three puck-drops and six dressing room talks aimed at discouraging bullying while offering encouragement and motivation to young people.
A few days later, sitting across the table from Dole at a coffee shop, I was about to be introduced firsthand to the Pink Tape Campaign.
“It all started in December of 2017,” Dole, 44, of Cole Harbour, said. “It started with a telephone call from a parent about her son being bullied at school and at the rink. I went to the school and I talked to the vice-principal. As I coached some of the kids involved, in bantam hockey, I asked if it would be OK if I looked after the problem.”
Dole said the players were 13 and 14, and in considering strategy, he decided not to single any one out but to discuss the issue as team. Another big decision was to purchase pink tape.
“I emailed the parents of the team members letting them know I would be discussing bullying prior to Friday night’s game. The parents were asked to remove the tape from their kid’s sticks, their sticks would be tapeless when they arrived at the rink.”
With the help of another coach, Dole taped the sticks with pink tape.
“I asked the players what pink tape represents on the blade of the stick. One player raised his hand and said bullying.”
The talk Dole gave, aside from being on bullying, was about respect and fair play.
“We are a team, we are not individuals, we should support each other, every player should feel welcome when he comes to the rink. We want to have fun, as long as you have fun, everyone is a winner.”
The campaign was alive, the Cole Harbour Minor Hockey Association became a supporter as did Cole Harbour Colts, a junior B team. Puck-drop ceremonies began surfacing and Dole was speaking out against bullying. Hockey Nova Scotia jumped in, support and exposure were on the rise.
“I’ve spoken to just over 1,000 across the province, players, coaches, parents and association representatives. I’ve been all around metro, I’ve been to the Annapolis Valley and as far away as Cape Breton. The RCMP and Hockey Nova Scotia are partnering to bring this campaign to minor hockey associations all over the province.”
Dole has heard from coaches who have seen a difference in player’s attitudes and performances following his talk.
“It feels good, it’s rewarding,” he said. “My goal for The Pink Tape Campaign is to take it coast to coast in Canada, through the support of Hockey Canada. I plan to meet in the near future with Hockey Canada.”
Lyle Carter’s column appears every second Tuesday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a column idea, contact him at 902 673-2857.