This Tuesday we were pleased to hear from Kwame Damon Mason, the director, producer and writer of the 2015 documentary Soul on Ice: Past, Present and Future. In this film he tells the history, contributions and stories of black athletes in hockey. Kame talked to us about his background and how he came to be interested in this project. He said that he had always been a hockey fan, but as a young man growing up in Ontario he considered hockey to be mostly a white boy sport. It was not until fourteen years later, while working as a radio host in Edmonton, when he worked and became friends with a former hockey player, Georges Laraque that he really became interested in hockey again. He was becoming unhappy with his work as a radio host and a close family member encouraged him to follow his interests, whatever they may be.
Around 2011, he started gathering information about black players in hockey and was surprised to find that there had been a black hockey league in Canada. He knew that he wanted to make a documentary film so he set about finding people to interview. One of the first people he interviewed was Herb Carnegie, who played pro hockey in Quebec in the 1940’s and 50’s. He was lucky in this regard as Herb was 93 when he interviewed him and passed away only a few weeks later. He also interviewed his friend Georges Laraque, and along with these and many other interviews of younger players, his documentary began to take shape. He found that sometimes he had trouble because some older players did not want to talk about their experiences at all because they had been so traumatic. He did his best to present their stories in an unbiased manner. Many of these players went through adversity, but their love of the game was what mattered most, and he did his best to portray this. He was learning as he went along and finally in 2015 his film premiered at the Edmonton Film Festival, where it won the Viewers Choice Award. It has since been shown many, many times in many different places, including just recently on SportsNet. He thinks that his film has helped people to be able to talk about the issues that existed, but not in a bad way, it is all in how you approach it. Currently Kwame is doing some consulting for the NHL and also does hockey related Pod Casts. His film can be viewed online at vimeo.com/141191285 (password: mason) and you can find his podcasts at player.fm/podcasts/Kwame.