TORONTO (September 14, 2022) – This week marks the two-year anniversary since Canada Basketball signed the BlackNorth Initiative CEO Pledge. The organization remains committed to combating anti-Black systemic racism through a variety of initiatives and programs, including:
Launched in April 2021, UNIFIED 2024 is a multi-year program designed to lead the organization’s equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives and establish the organization as a leader within the Canadian sports industry by 2024. An advisory council made up of leaders from within the Canadian basketball community was also formed to not only advise and provide recommendations on programming and initiatives but also to hold Canada Basketball and its stakeholders accountable to their inclusion, equity and diversity goals and objectives. In addition to the council, several staff-led committees, including a Pro-Black Inclusion Committee, were formed to provide a platform for those with lived experience to shape equity initiatives through the organization.
Canada Basketball Board of Directors diversification
Over the last several years, Canada Basketball has been strategic in its efforts to foster inclusiveness for Black leaders at the board level. As an aspect of the CEO pledge, the BlackNorth Initiative outlined a goal of, “at a minimum, 3.5% of executive and board roles based in Canada being held by Black leaders by 2025.” Canada Basketball currently exceeds this target with 27% of board positions, and 47% of those affiliated with the organization (including full-time staff, interns, high-performance support staff and volunteer board members), being from under-represented groups.
Black History Month: “I Dream Because I CAN”
Earlier this year, Canada Basketball launched the “I Dream Because I CAN” campaign to celebrate Black History Month by sharing the stories of influential Black Canadian players, coaches, and officials. The campaign was developed to educate, recognize and celebrate the origins, challenges and successes of Black Canadians across all aspects of the game of basketball. Programming during the month was highlighted by Canada Basketball's First Black Dreamers Circle, which featured Canada Basketball legends sharing the successes and memories they have representing Canada on the international stage but also the challenges and struggles they encountered along the way.
Black Referee Summit
Hosted in Toronto during the inaugural GLOBL JAM, the Black Referees Summit was the first in a series of seminars, designed to discuss both the challenges and successes of racialized officials and their experiences within the sport in Canada. Moderated by Rowan Barrett, Chair, UNIFIED 2024 Advisory Council and General Manager / Executive Vice-President, Senior Men's Program, the Black Referees Summit was an opportunity for Black Canadian officials to speak about their lived experience as basketball officials, by sharing, listening, and learning together in an open and transparent environment. Discussion was focused around the ways in which collective action can be taken to not only create a more positive environment, but one with opportunities for growth and mentorship for officials across the country.
Education & Awareness
Implementing or expanding unconscious bias and antiracism education is one of seven goals outlined in the BlackNorth Initiative CEO Pledge and a critical step towards ending anti-Black systemic racism and creating opportunities for underrepresented groups. Canada Basketball staff have participated in several “Lunch and Learn” educational sessions featuring a variety of guest speakers and presenters, including, “The Black Experience In Canada” with Dahabo Ahmed-Omer, Executive Director at The BlackNorth Initiative, and “Anti-racism framework in Canadian basketball” with Danny Stone, best-selling author, podcast host, and coach. Later this fall, all Canada Basketball staff will also attend equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism training.
As part of Canada Basketball’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, earlier this year, Canada Basketball hired Moyo Omole, Manager, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, to further its strategic commitments and work alongside the Unified 2024 Advisory Council and committees.