The OUA & U SPORTS acknowledges Black History month

Governing bodies of Canadian university sport commit to anti-racism work 

The OUA hosted their first anti-racism awareness week this year.
With over 11,000 student athletes, coaches, and administrators, the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) is the largest conference within U SPORTS and was the first multi-sport organization of intercollegiate athletics in Canada.
Understanding their influence, the OUA created the inaugural Ontario University Athletics Anti-Racism Awareness Week this year. During the last week of January, the OUA highlighted individuals from universities across the province to share stories about their cultural upbringing, how they are embracing their culture, and the importance of cultural appreciation. 
During Black History Month, the OUA is featuring various stories from members of their Black, biracial, and Indigenous Task Force. 
Members of the Queen’s community have been highlighted, including a recent feature on Queen’s Women’s Basketball’s Assistant Coach Wumi Agunbiade. They also held an interview with Lireesa Gokhool-Jefferson, one of the first Black women to play Queen’s basketball. 
Back in August 2020, during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, the OUA took their first step toward acknowledging the racism experienced by student athletes and formed the Black, Biracial, and Indigenous (BBI) Task Force. In addition, the OUA worked alongside the Indigeneity, Diaspora, Equity and Anti-Racism in Sport (IDEAS) Research lab in October 2021 to release the Anti-Racism Project report.
The 85-page report states that racism exists in every OUA program, in subtle and obvious ways. It talks about racism in the hiring and recruitment process of college athletics, and how racialized athletes and coaches are often left out. 
Furthermore, it addresses how community members often lack a concrete understanding of white privilege, and how athletes report they’re suffering in silence as universities and institutions lack anti-racism policies and reporting processes.
The report ultimately outlines four pillars which should serve as tools for change: education, recruitment, support, and accountability. 
The report interviewed over 5,000 student athletes, coaches, and sports admins—72.7 per cent of participants were white, however. The study found there is limited diversity among racialized coaches and administrators, and there is only some athlete diversity. 
“It would be good, I think, if the OUA made it mandatory to have not only just the coaches, teammates, but [also] the umpires, athletic directors, like everybody involved in sport to do some sort of training on this,” Mercedes, a South Asian softball player, said in the report.
“Whether that’s you know watching a module about what microaggressions are [or] showing what diversity is, and what other cultures are that are here, and embracing that.”
The OUA is overseen by U SPORTS, which is the national governing body for university sports in Canada. This year, U SPORTS is highlighting stories of resilience from various African American university athletes. 
“I think being resilient is just blocking out everybody and just looking in the mirror and asking what you want,” Ted Kubongo, a football player for the Saskatchewan Huskies, said in a recent U SPORTS interview highlighting BIPOC athletes this month. 
“I am just glad we are prioritizing our Black community. A lot has happened in the last few years, not just in the Black community, but the minority community, and I am glad we are spreading awareness.”

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