How are Black Canadian Athletes reacting to the Black Lives Matter Movement
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How are Black Canadian Athletes reacting to the Black Lives Matter Movement

While the Black Lives Matters movement started in the United States, the movement has grown substantially with many countries including Canada taking to the streets to protest police brutality and anti-black racism. Some of the biggest names in Canadian sports are adding their voices to the movement, using their platforms to promote change and end anti-black racism. 

Canadian Athletes and Black Lives Matters

Some of Canada’s biggest athletes have taken to social media and news platforms to voice their support of the Black Lives Matters movement. Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard made one of the most newsworthy statements when he criticized his head coach Mike Gundy for wearing an OAN shirt.

For those unfamiliar, OAN or One America News Network is a strongly right-wing news organization known for making false statements and running conspiracy theories. Their depictions of the protests in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing prompted the star running back from Alberta to speak out against his coach.   

While some initially criticized Hubbard for not directly going to his coach first, his actions did prompt the Oklahoma State coach to issue an apology and film a short video with Hubbard.

kia nurse black lives matter

Kia Nurse, the prominent WNBA star, is also using her platform for change, in both the United States and Canada. The nurse calls upon athletes to use their voice and take action towards change. She knows the power and reaches athletes have in our society and implores them to use it in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement.  

Other Canadian athletes have taken different routes in their support of the Black Lives Matter Movement. One, who is not a household name, is Canadian Football League wide receiver, Nate Behar. The London, Ontario native penned a beautiful and powerful essay that confronts white supremacy and ways to drive change.  Although the essay may not land the free agent a job, it certainly has lauded him with respect from his colleagues and peers.

Many Canadian athletes have taken smaller steps but still have positively supported the movement. From many taking a part in Blackout Tuesday, to donating to charities and causes supporting anti-black racism, to signing and promoting petitions for change, most hope every little bit helps.  

The NHL Works Towards Better Diversity

The NHL is stepping up its efforts to eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey, with the formation of the Hockey Diversity Alliance. The executive committee is co-headed by two Black Canadian hockey players – Evander Kane and Akim Aliu.

Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Evander Kane has been arguably the most vocal National Hockey League player since the death of George Floyd. He appeared on the ESPN show First Take to discuss Floyd’s tragic death and how the sports world can do more to help fight racism.  

While not appearing on as much mainstream media as Evander Kane, the Hockey Diversity Alliance co-leader Akim Aliu plays arguably the most important role in hockey’s fight to end racism and intolerance. Aliu, born in Nigeria, but growing up and learning hockey in Ontario, went public with allegations that his former Bill Peter directed racial epithets at him while coaching the Rockford IceHogs.

Akim Aliu and Anti Black Racism

While Peters resigned four days after the allegations, it has taken until now for the NHL to truly step up its efforts to promote real change in the game. Hopefully, Aliu and Kane along with the rest of the committee can help hockey deal with anti-black racism that lingers behind the scenes.   

Other notable NHL players not involved directly with the Hockey Diversity Alliance have spoken out in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement. P.K. Subban, who in 2017, said he would not kneel or protest during the national anthem, has been active on Twitter calling on reform to hockey and the NHL. Subban also donated $50,000 to support Gianna, the six-year-old daughter of George Floyd. This is not Subban's first act of philanthropy, having previously pledged $10,000,000 to the Montreal Children's Hospital in Quebec

And it is not just Black Canadian hockey players calling for reform and supporting BLM. The game's biggest stars, such as Connor McDavid from Ontario and Sidney Crosby from Nova Scotia have publicly supported the change. Hopefully, the fans are taking notice too and can help hockey advance productively and positively.

Other Athletes Playing in Canada

We would be remiss if we did not mention the impact and messages of a few non-Canadian athletes who play in Canada. One important athlete playing in Canada and supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement is Toronto Raptors star, Kyle Lowry.

Kyle Lowry Black Lives Matter

Kyle Lowry used his platforms to promote reform and attended protests in his hometown of Philadelphia. Lowry should continue to use his voice and platform in support of the movement when the NBA (hopefully) returns at the end of July.

The Toronto Maple Leafs top goal scorer, Auston Matthews, has taken to Instagram to support voice his support of the Black Lives Matter Movement. As one of the biggest stars in hockey’s biggest, the Arizona native – who is half-Hispanic – will hopefully continue to voice his support, when the NHL returns.