March 2nd marked our first event of 2023! The Fast and Female team was so…
Celebrating Black History Month – Black Women Leaders in Sport
By Morgyn Engman
In Canada, Black History Month is a time to recognize and celebrate Black Canadians (Canada, 2023). It is a time to learn about the stories of Black people and their contributions and achievements that have continued to help our communities develop and be better.
This Black History Month, we are highlighting some powerful Black women leaders in sport, throughout history and who are making history right now.
Kayla Grey – Sports Anchor
Kayla Grey wears many hats in sports broadcasting. She is a host and co-executive producer of The Shift with Kayla Grey, on TSN, an anchor on SportsCentre and does live courtside reporting of the Toronto Raptors. She has received many awards to recognize her influential work in journalism and advocacy for anti-racism and inclusion in sports media.
Nikki Duckett – Sports Attorney
Nikki Duckett is a sports attorney, working with athletes to leverage their influence for personal benefits, and to inspire and empower others. She started out in sports as the general counsel for the LA Clippers and developed their Legal department, and contributed to many deals with Fortune 500 companies. This gave her the knowledge and experience to start her own legal consulting firm for athletes. She has had the honor of speaking at many prestigious events about the sports and entertainment industry.
Eroseanna Robinson – Athlete and Advocate, track and field
Eroseanna was a track and field athlete competing in high jump. She was an advocate for desegregation for many years. She made many political stands including sitting for the national anthem at the Pan American Games, and refusing to compete in a competition in the Soviet Union during the Cold War in 1958 (USA Today, 2022). She did not want to be a pawn, and did not want to send a message to the world that Black people were treated equally in the United States. Advocacy was a large part of her life and although Eroseanna is not a common household name she had an impact on the sports world.
Angela James – Former Athlete, hockey 1980-2000; Current General Manager, Toronto Six
Angela had a lengthy journey in hockey, starting out by playing for a boys team at age 8 because there were no girls teams. She was extremely skilled and excelled to play with 11 and 12 year old boys, until not being able to continue in the league. Her family made sacrifices to allow her to play for a girls team nearby, where she was playing with much older women, and still being extremely competitive. She started playing for the new Central Ontario Women’s Hockey League at age 16, in 1980 and played until 1998. She was a top scorer most of her career and received many Most Valuable Player titles. Angela was a 3-time OCAA scoring champion and 2-time OCAA All-Star. After her retirement she has continued to be honored by her University, Hockey Canada, International Ice Hockey Federation and the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. Currently, Angela is the General Manager for the Toronto Six Women’s Hockey Team.
Maya Addai – Athlete, rugby
Maya is a women’s rugby player at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. She is a recipient of the Athletes on Track bursary, a BlackNorth initiative to provide funding to Black student athletes. In addition to competing in USPORTS, she has competed internationally for Canada at the Tri-Nations Cup in England (Charlatan, 2019). She has set school records and was named the player of the week for women’s rugby in September 2022 (USPORTS, 2022)
Lee Ann Osei – Coach and Founder of Black Canadian Coaches Association
Lee Ann Osei is a former intercollegiate basketball player, receiving many awards during her career, including 3 Academic All-Canadian awards. Lee played for the University of Miami, Trinity Valley C.C, and finished her career at Wilfrid Laurier University. Now, she is a coach of athletes at all levels of the sport for various organizations, including Grassroots Canada Elite Basketball and Toronto Raptors, as a Development Coach. She is also the founder of the Black Canadian Coaches Association, an organization working to empower BIPOC people in sports, and creating a more diverse and inclusive space, and the founder of Canletes, Canada’s Premier Platform for Women’s Hoops.
Dr. Janelle Joseph, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto
Dr. Janelle Joseph is an Assistant Professor of Critical Studies of Race and Indigeneity at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education. Dr. Joseph is also the Founder and Director of the IDEAS (Indigeneity, Diaspora, Equity and Anti-Racism in Sport) Research Lab. The IDEAS lab is the first of it’s kind in Canada, dedicated to issues of race and movement cultures. Dr. Joseph is an internationally recognized and award-winning scholar. You can learn more about her current and past research by clicking here.
Black-Owned and Black-led Orgs We Love Related to Sport and Movement (Canada)
If you’re looking to support Black-owned and Black-led organizations and businesses this month and every month, check out these amazing organizations below. We’ve chosen some of our favorites that look to empower girls and women in sport, and create more inclusive and welcoming spaces.
- Black Girl Hockey Club Canada – “A non profit organization that focuses on making hockey more inclusive for not only Black women, but our family, friends and allies”
- Black Runners of the GTA – “Inclusivity promoting the running community”
- Darken the Mountains – “Bring[ing] inclusivity to outdoor spaces”
- Heal in Colour – “Bandages made for Black and brown skin”
As we are wrapping up Black history month we want to acknowledge that it is not the end of the learning, advocacy and celebration. It is important to continue recognizing and learning the stories, history, and impact Black people have in communities around you. Check out these resources and stories below:
- The Get Real Movement – Black Allyship
- Black Health Alliance
- Black Mental Health Alliance
- Are We One? OUA Anti-Racism Report, led by Dr. Joseph
- Policy Paper for Anti-Racism in Canadian Hockey
- Black History Canada
- SportsNet Article – “Be Physical, Don’t Talk, Don’t Have a Personality: How Sports Silence Black Female Athletes”