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In this 11th edition, in honour of February being Black History Month and National Girls and Women in Sports Day taking place this past Wednesday, February 7th, eight Black Canadian women athletes (past and present) will be highlighted. While talented in their respective sports, these athletes have also helped to leave a positive impact, make history, and grow the Canadian sports landscape. We will learn about athletes in the hockey, swimming, hurdling, soccer, para powerlifting, diving, and basketball world. We will also learn about their backgrounds and accomplishments in their respective sports.

The Black Canadian women athletes highlighted this week show young girls in sport and physical activity that:

  1. Numerous world records and historical moments are held by specifically Black Canadian girls and women in sports. These positive moments of impact are important to celebrate and remember when looking at our current sports landscape.

     2. Any sport you choose to follow, participate in, or engage with, there is an example of talented Black Canadian girls and women who have competed in the sport that can be looked at as inspiration and representation. At the same time, however, growth is always important, and the more girls and women of all backgrounds and abilities that want to play sports, the better it is for the overall sports landscape and where sports should continue to evolve.

Photo from NHLPA

Sarah Nurse 

Sarah Nurse is a Canadian professional ice hockey player, a Canadian women’s national hockey team member, an Olympian, and a PWHL Toronto team member. With the Canadian women’s national hockey team, Nurse is a 2x Olympian, winning a gold medal during the 2022 Olympics and a silver medal during the 2018 Olympics. In 2022, Nurse became the first Black woman to win an Olympic gold medal for women’s hockey. Nurse was featured on Cheerios cereal boxes and represented as a hockey Barbie in 2020 during a partnership between Tim Hortons and Barbie. She also graced the cover of the EA Sports NHL 2023 video game, becoming the first women’s hockey player to be featured

Photo from Swimming Canada

Debbie Armstead

Debbie Armstead is a former Canadian professional swimmer. She made history after becoming the first Black Canadian swimmer to qualify for the Olympics in 1980. The University of Calgary named Armstead the 1980-81 Female Athlete of the Year and National University Swimmer of the Year.

Photo from Athletics Canada

Perdita Felicien

Perdita Felicien is a former Canadian professional hurdler and Olympian. She made history, becoming the first Canadian woman to win an IAAF World Championship individual medal in track. Felicien participated in two Olympics, in 2000 and 2004. In 2004, Felicien also set a Canadian record in the 100-meter hurdles.

Photo from Guyanese Girls Rock

Charmaine Hooper

Charmaine Hooper is a former Canadian professional soccer player. In 1986, Hooper joined the first Canadian women’s national soccer team. She was also named the first Canadian women’s national soccer team member to hit a mark of 100 caps (game appearances). There have been two Hall of Fames in which Hooper has been inducted. In 1994, 1995, 2002, and 2003, Hooper was awarded the Canadian Female Player of the Year

Photo from

Sally Thomas

Sally Thomas is a former Canadian professional para powerlifter and Paralympian. She made history and became the first female Canadian to compete in Para Powerlifting during the 2004 Paralympics. Throughout her powerlifting career, she had won over 70 medals.

Photo from Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star

Angela James

Angela James, AKA “the Wayne Gretzky of women’s hockey,” is a former Canadian professional hockey player, Hockey Hall of Famer, and Officer of the Order in Canada. In 1990, James joined the first Canadian women’s national team during the inaugural IIHF World Women’s Championship. Canada won gold during this 1990 championship. In 2009, a hockey arena in North York, Ontario, was officially named “Angela James Arena” in her honour. There have been five Hall of Fames in which James has been inducted, most recently in 2010, where she was one of two of the first women, the first openly gay player, and the second Black athlete in history to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. 

  Photo from Canadian Museum of History

Jennifer Abel

Jennifer Abel is a Canadian professional diver and Olympian. At 16 years old, Abel became one of Canada’s youngest 2008 Olympic divers and the youngest member of Team Canada during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. In 2019, she made history, becoming the most decorated Canadian diver ever. That same year, she also set a record for the most Canadian medals won at FINA World Championships, with six silver medals and four bronze medals. 

Photo from Canada Basketball

Sylvia Sweeney

Sylvia Sweeney, AKA “Canada’s First Lady of Basketball,” is a former Canadian professional basketball player, Olympian, and Member of the Order of Canada. Sweeney participated in two Olympics, in 1976 and 1984. Sweeney was part of history in 1976 when women’s basketball was played in the Olympics for the first time. There have been three Hall of Fames in which Sweeney has been inducted. Additionally, U Sports created the “Sylvia Sweeney Award” in 1994, annually dedicated to a Canadian university women’s basketball player.


Kaitlyn’s Sport Stories Recap
are written by Kaitlyn Lehbert, a passionate and driven sport advocate for girls and women. Kaitlyn holds her Bachelor’s degree in Sports Management from Brock University. Learn more about Kaitlyn by clicking here!


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