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Canada Basketball launches “I Dream Because I CAN” to celebrate Black History Month

TORONTO, Ont. (February 1, 2022) – Throughout the month of February, Canada Basketball will celebrate Black History Month by sharing the stories of influential Black Canadian players, coaches, and officials who have made significant contributions to the rise of basketball within our country.

Programming and content over the course of the month will proudly reflect the theme “I Dream Because I CAN” and will work to educate, recognize and celebrate the origins, challenges and successes of Black Canadians across all aspects of the game of basketball.

“Canada Basketball remains committed to elevating the voices of Black Canadians, and our “I Dream Because I CAN” campaign is just one of the ways our organization will honour that commitment,” said Michael Bartlett, Canada Basketball President & CEO.  “While the sport of basketball often presents itself as diverse, the reality is that work remains to be done to remove the many barriers - both visible and invisible - which impact one's ability to turn their dreams into reality.”

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. Chaired by Rowan Barrett, General Manager / Executive Vice-President, Senior Men's Program and Olympian, Unified 2024 has resulted in an action-based approach by Canada Basketball, designed to create meaningful outcomes within the organization and across the basketball sector.

“These success stories are not without struggle and adversity, but they are critical pieces of the history of not only our organization, but of basketball in Canada,” said Barrett.  “The unique journey of each of these Dreamers has been a tremendous inspiration to those who have come after, aiding the modern-day growth of basketball in Canada.

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, which is led by Michael Meeks, Assistant General Manager, Men's Basketball Operations and Olympian.  The committee is just one of several staff-led groups formed through the Unified 2024 program and are designed to provide a platform for those with lived experience to shape equity initiatives through the organization.

As part of Canada Basketball’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, the organization recently hired Moyo Omole, Manager, Human Resources and EDI to further its strategic commitments and work alongside the Unified 2024 Advisory Council and committees.

“To bring 'I Dream Because I CAN' and our Black History Month programming to fruition required collaboration across various groups at Canada Basketball,” said Omole. “Following countless hours of work from staff, as well as advice and guidance from our Unified 2024 Council members, we’re excited to launch this campaign and continue to tell the stories of influential Black Canadians around the game of basketball for weeks, months and years to come.”

Throughout the month of February, highlighted Canada Basketball programming and content includes:

Canada Basketball's First Black Dreamers Circle (February 22)

Join Canada Basketball legends Tony Simms, Sue Stewart, Tammy Sutton-Brown and Doc Ryan for an open and honest virtual conversation around not only their successes and memories they have representing Canada on the international stage but the challenges and struggles they encountered along the way.  Moderated by Paul Jones, play-by-play voice of the Toronto Raptors on Sportsnet 590 The Fan, Canada Basketball's First Black Dreamers Circle will be a can’t miss event for fans of Canadian basketball and an opportunity to learn more about those who laid the foundation for our modern day stars in the NBA, WNBA and overseas.

Interested in attending? Click here to register for Canada Basketball's First Black Dreamers Circle.

Lunch and Learn Opportunities

To continue fostering a basketball environment that is built on an understanding of equity, diversity and inclusion, Canada Basketball has organized a series of lunch and learn sessions throughout the month for staff, provincial / territorial sport organizations (PTSO) executive directors, as well as members of the Unified 2024 Advisory Council, which is comprised of leaders from within the Canadian basketball community from across the country.

Danny Stone, a business coach and transformational speaker, will lead the group in a discussion on ways in which the Canadian basketball community can continue to develop an anti-racism framework, while later in the month, Dahabo Ahmed-Omer, Executive Director of the BlackNorth Initiative, will discuss the Black experience in Canada and the organization’s work towards removing barriers that negatively affect the lives of Black Canadians.

Canada Basketball staff will each receive a redeemable delivery voucher to be used to purchase lunch from a local Black Canadian owned restaurant which provides staff with an opportunity to research, support and experience cuisine from businesses in their area.

Sportsnet x Canada Basketball

Throughout the month, Sportsnet and Canada Basketball have worked together to elevate the voices of our Black Canadian athletes, alumni, coaches, broadcasters and content creators around the game of basketball.  Stay tuned during Black History Month for interviews, features and digital content, including a feature on Canada’s Senior Women’s National Team which explores how powerful the phrase “Black Girl Magic” is not only in the sports community, but as an inspiration and rallying cry to Black females everywhere.

Dreamers To Be Recognized

Canada Basketball will also shine a spotlight on today’s Black players, coaches, officials and executives who continue to pursue their hoop dreams and inspire the next generation to follow their dreams on basketball courts across the country. The stories of these prominent contributors to basketball in Canada will be told through written features, video segments and empowering quotes.

How to Get Involved

- Use our Canada Basketball “I Dream Because I CAN” calendar to get involved with our various virtual events and social media posts.

- Stay tuned to and across our social channels throughout the month of February to learn more about the basketball journeys of our Black Canadian players, officials, coaches and executives.

- Share Canada Basketball, Sportsnet and your own posts and stories throughout the month using the hashtag #IDreamBecauseICAN and by tagging Canada Basketball social accounts on your posts, images and videos.

- Visit the Black History Month section on our Unified 2024 page to learn more.