Runners competing in hurdlesCOC Photo/Jason Ransom
COC Photo/Jason Ransom

Team Canada Athletes Raise their Voices Against Racism

Listening, learning, and taking action.

Those are just some things that Team Canada athletes have called for during this time of widespread social change and awareness of what it means to be anti-racist.

Many athletes have shared their personal stories in an effort to not only make the world of sport more diverse and inclusive, but to also make everyone aware of the inequality and injustices that Black people face in our country.

P.K. Subban

Known for giving back to his community, Subban provided financial support to George Floyd’s daughter, Gianna. But his larger message is that it’s time to “Change the Game”—a sentiment he wears on his hat every day. The Sochi 2014 gold medallist stresses that everyone has to do their part to change the current narrative.

Phylicia George

Reflecting in a video, George speaks to how little change has happened between the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and now. The dual Olympian in hurdles and bobsleigh explains how she made herself small out of fear of being different. George urges people to fight alongside the Black community for equality. Injustice, discrimination and brutality aren’t isolated to one area.

Félix Auger-Aliassime

Teenage tennis star Auger-Aliassime acknowledged the opportunities he has had throughout his life but knows not everyone has the same freedoms. In his candid video, Auger-Aliassime shared a story of what it was like for his father to be racially profiled by police. He expresses the need for everyone to be aware that injustice and discrimination can happen to someone you know.

Sarah Nurse

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I have always been hesitant to speak about race because I have light skin and I am not a direct target for racism everyday. Violent acts of racism are highlighted in the news. It also needs to be understood and recognized that racial bias and micro-aggressions leading to racism & violence surround us every single day. Many of you know my dad; he’s educated, he’s kind, he’s a talker, he’s goofy and he’d give you the shirt off his back. A few years ago, I was in a grocery store with my dad. When checking out (we were making separate purchases) the cashier was bubbly and welcoming to all the customers until my dad walked through the line. He greeted her and then I watched her look him up and down, not acknowledge him as a customer, and then completely ignore him as he checked out. When I came through she was her bubbly self again, she turned the smile back on, greeted me and even applied a coupon to one of my items. This may seem insignificant but it’s this behaviour and these attitudes that need to change. That day I truly started understanding white privilege and what is taken for granted – I was shown kindness, acknowledgement and respect because of the colour of my skin, something that she obviously didn’t think my dad was deserving of. Hearing about George Floyd shook me and I can’t tip-toe around this. We shouldn’t have to fear for our black family. We have to change. We have to have conversations. We have to start challenging belief systems. We have to educate ourselves. We have to stand up for what is right. We can’t stay silent. ✊🏽 Sign the petition to bring justice for George Floyd. Donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund @mnfreedomfund ➡️ Follow and take action with @blklivesmatter ✊🏽 #justiceforgeorgefloyd #justiceforahmaud #justiceforbreonnataylor #blacklivesmatter

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Olympic silver medallist Nurse has taken time to reflect on her experiences as a biracial woman and recalls a moment with her father at a grocery store where the behaviour towards him, a Black man, was unfair. Staying silent is not an option for Nurse, saying attitudes and behaviour need to change.

Karina LeBlanc

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Every parent wants to protect their child. This week has not been easy when thinking about how do we protect our kids from the injustices of the world we live in? Sadly I 😢as I turned to my husband I said: “With the way things are, it’s a blessing we had a girl. The sad thing is that in these scary times, she may still not be safe” I’m raising a mixed race girl. No parent should ever have to think this way. We need to make this world a better place and we all play a part in doing this. My husband and I have had some very interesting conversations lately on raising our daughter. We both have had different lives and brought up in different ways. We both have had different experiences as he is a white man and I am a black woman. We feel our experiences have prepared us to raise her in the best way we know how. We can control what we can control with her making sure she is loved and gives love. We will educate her on things which are comfortable to talk about and uncomfortable. As parents there is so much we can control, and so much we can’t. In these painful times we must all stand up and take action towards a better future

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LeBlanc is not only an Olympian but a new mother. The soccer goalkeeper shares what it is like to raise a daughter in a world of inequality.

LeBlanc touches on the importance of education and her intention to have comfortable and uncomfortable conversations about race and inequality with her daughter.

If you are looking for ways to talk to your children about racism , here are some children’s book

Brandie Wilkerson

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Lately it has been hard to see the light in all of this darkness. ⠀ I’ve been personally torn by the constant reminder of the binds that have dragged my Black ancestry down for centuries and the juxtaposition of privilege I’ve lived as a biracial athlete. And I know I’m not the only one, whether personally or indirectly we bear heavy hearts for the racial injustice that is still so prevalent today. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The time for change was long ago so now it’s time to catch up. And that change needs to come from everyone. 💯 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So let’s talk about the ‘new normal’ were all inching to get back to… When difference in race and culture strengthens us no longer divides When people of colour are finally free from decades of systematic oppression When the people benefiting from this system are outraged and urged to dismantle it When people acknowledge their privilege and listen When love & peace instead of destruction and death can send a message When we show up and fight for our Black communities so people of colour can finally heal Can finally breathe. ⠀ So let’s REALLY talk about a new normal. One that starts with knowledge, it grows into action, and it spreads with love. 🙏🏽🖤 ⠀ #powertothepeople #blacklivesmatter #equality #elevateandeducate #justicenow #georgefloyd #peacefulprotest #thisaffectsusall #representationmatters

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Wilkerson, a beach volleyball player, calls for a “new normal” in our society. When everyone shows up for Black communities, our cultures no longer divide us, and systematic oppression is no longer prevalent.

Jean Pascal

Pascal competed in boxing at Athens 2004 and is now fighting in a new ring. While protesting in the streets of Montreal, Pascal’s message was about giving youth the right model to follow to end racism and discrimination.

Josiah Morra

Rugby sevens player Morra, who played for Team Canada at Lima 2019, says he wants a better future for his younger siblings and took to the streets in British Columbia to protest for equality.

Nikkita Holder

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I was born with the gift of melanin, full lips, a round nose, hair so versatile it’s magic and strength beyond measure!…I go by the name of BLACK WOMAN! . . We are BLACK LADIES. We build. We don’t tear down other BLACK LADIES. We have felt the pain of being torn down and we have decided we will be deliberate about building others! . . Upload 1 picture of yourself… ONLY you. Then tag as many SISTERS to do the same. Let’s build ourselves up, instead of tearing ourselves down. . . Thank you @yxngshay @crysyboo @jaydensmama2016 @likklelexy_ @rileebadhabit87 . . . #blackwoman #youare #aqueen #melanin #gift #love #beauty #strengthbeyondmeasure #blackqueens #uplift #unityconsciousness

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Two-time Olympic hurdler Holder turned to social media to empower other Black women, showing what it means to be unapologetic about who she is and embracing the magic and pride that comes with being a Black woman.

Sam Effah

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"There comes a time when silence is betrayal.⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ ⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ ⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ – Martin Luther King⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣ Jr.⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ ⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ Injustice and racism are not just American issues.⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ ⁣⁠⁣⁠ ⁣⁠⁣⁠ Constructive ways to help ⬇️⁣⁠⁣⁠ ⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ ✅ Do✅ ⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ 1. Have public conversations outside of DMs.⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ 2. Call out ignorant BS from family, friends, co-workers, teammates. ⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ 3. Check your local communities and find out how you can personally make a tangible, positive change.⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ ⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ 🚫 Don't🚫⁣⁠⁣⁠ 1. Don't limit your voice to a story post or a retweet.⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠ Let us hear your voice, your words.⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ 2. Don't deflect the conversation.⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ 3. Saying 'I don't see color' is not good enough. Understand differences instead of ignoring them.⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠ Acknowledging ones identity is important, and is a first step to moving forward.⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠ ⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ ⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ Let's make better choices. ⁣⁠⁣⁠ ⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ ⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ ⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ ⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ ⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ ⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ ⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠⁣⁠ #stopprejudice #stopracism #equality #blacklivesmatter #speakup #BLM #community #love #motivation #humanrights #canada #injustice #racism #leadership #friendship #MLK

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Educating others is just one way Effah says everyone can be part of the conversation and movement for change. The sprinter says people need to put their words into actions and embrace the uncomfortable conversations.

Check out Effah’s piece, “Running While Black”, for an insightful  read on his everyday fears as a Black Canadian.

Françoise Abanda

Abanda shared what it was like to be at a protest in downtown Montreal and what it meant to come together and fight for change and opportunity.

Segun Makinde

Twice an Olympic team member, Makinde details the struggles of being viewed differently in society and the fear that he carries when out in public. He urges people to stand up for those who get knocked down and be the voice for those who aren’t being heard.

Education is just the start of making an impact. If you would like to learn more about anti-racism or want to support Black communities, check out some resources here.

Alicia Brown

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As a biracial woman, born into black and white ancestry, I recognize the privileges that come with my lighter skin complexion and loose curl pattern. Yet at a young age, I learned that I would have to work twice as hard as my peers for equal opportunities. I’ve struggled to fill out government forms that did not recognize my mixed heritage. I’ve been racially profiled while shopping and I’ve been othered and fetishized because of the complexion of my skin. I continue to feel many of these biases & others still today. To the world, I am a Black woman and I am so proud. I should not fear the lives of my grandparents, father, uncles, partner and dear friends. I should not fear one day bringing a Black boy into this world. Yet, I do. I stand with my Black brothers and sisters as we fight for racial equality and justice. Because simply, enough is enough. We are BLACK WOMEN!…We build, we don’t tear down other BLACK WOMEN… We have felt the pain of being torn down and we have decided we will be deliberate about building others! If I didn’t tag you please don’t be offended. I tried to pick people I thought would complete the challenge 💜  With all the negativity going around, let's do something positive!! Upload 1 picture of yourself, and tag as many SISTERS to do the same. Thank you to my beautiful sisters @michajada and @theenaa_ for tagging me. 📸 : @kathi_robertson_weddings

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Rio 2016 Olympian Brown shared her experience as a biracial woman, reflecting on the biases towards Black people. She writes of the fears she shouldn’t have to think about as well as some of the struggles she has had.

Pamphinette Buisa

The rugby player took words into action by organizing one of the peaceful protests in Victoria, B.C. Buisa was able to bring 9000 people together on the streets of Victoria to help fight for change, and give power back to the people