TORONTO, Ont. (February 28, 2022) – Last week, Canada Basketball hosted the First Black Dreamers Circle as part of the organization’s month-long Black History Month “I Dream Because I CAN” celebrations.
Featuring Canada Basketball legends Tony Simms, Susan Stewart, Tammy Sutton-Brown and Doc Ryan, the First Black Dreamers Circle was an opportunity for each of the “Dreamers” to share not only their successes and memories of representing Canada on the international stage but also the challenges and struggles they encountered along the way.
"Hosting Canada’s Basketball’s First Black Dreamers Circle was an engaging and important step for our organization," said Michael Bartlett, President & CEO. "I’d like to extend my thanks and appreciation to each of the Dreamers for joining us and sharing their stories, as well as our Canada Basketball staff for their involvement in developing programming and content throughout the month. While today is the last day of February and Black History Month, our work is not done as we remain committed to continuing to elevate the voices of our Black athletes, coaches and officials year-round."
As a thank you not only for their participation in the event, but also the role they played as trailblazers for the sport in our country, each Dreamer identified a charity of their choice with the Canada Basketball Foundation making a $5,000 donation to each organization.
On behalf of Peter “Doc” Ryan, a donation will be made to St. Francis Xavier University as five bursaries are being established and awarded to five Black student-athletes who are looking to further their involvement in basketball in the community. One of the first Black players on Canada’s Men’s National Basketball team, Ryan has spent the past 15 years as an Assistant Coach with the St. FX Men’s Basketball team. Following his playing career with Canada, Ryan also served as an Assistant Coach with the Canadian Men’s National Program for over 12 years.
Susan Stewart, who proudly represented Canada at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, selected Ballmatics, a movement-based academic program that combines sports with STE(A)M curriculum. Located at Dupont and Dovercourt in Toronto, Ballmatics is a hub for athletic and academic development of youth aged 4 to 18. The combination of athletics and academics is an important focus for Stewart, who had a storied career at Laurentian University, where she helped the team win five Ontario University Athletics (OUA) titles (1989-1995) and back-to-back National Championships in 1990-1991, while earning her Bachelor of Arts with an emphasis in Law and Justice.
Motion Ball Sports Association, a not-for-profit organization established to work with all levels of sports from beginners to professional, was the proud recipient of a donation from Tammy Sutton-Brown. The organization is comprised of volunteers which include educators, executives, the coaching staff and managers and is committed to delivering their mandate and vision through REP, house league and instructional programs for both males and females and will be launching a new girls-only 3x3 league this year. Sutton-Brown, who is currently Associate of Basketball and Franchise Operations for the Toronto Raptors, G-league team, Raptors 905, represented Canada in several major international competitions, including 2000 Sydney Olympics, 2005 FIBA Americas Championship for Women and 2006 World Championship for Women.
For his charity of choice, Tony Simms, who played for Canada at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, selected Battle Canada, a sanctuary for young athletes to learn and grow in the game of basketball. Battle Canada’s mission is to be the best outdoor cultural sports and music festival to serve the diverse cultural mosaic that is Canada, and to provide spaces to honour its many diverse ethnic communities. Battle Canada will also be opening a new location in Mississauga later this year, in partnership with Senior Men’s National Team player Andrew Nicholson. Simms was also a member of the Canadian team which captured a historic gold medal at the 1983 Summer Universiade on home court in Edmonton.
Every aspect of the organization’s Black History Month “I Dream Because I CAN” campaign was developed in collaboration with Canada Basketball’s Pro-Black Inclusion Committee, one of several staff-led groups formed through the Unified 2024 program, as well as the Manager, Human Resources and EDI.
Launched in April 2021, Unified 2024 is a multi-year program designed to guide Canada Basketball’s equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives and establish the organization as a purpose-based leader within the Canadian sports industry.