As part of Black History Month, a group of university athletes at Nipissing University in North Bay formed a club to bring awareness of equality, diversity and inclusion, as well as honour significant northern contributions from Black Canadians.
The Nipissing University Black Association for Student Expression, NUBASE, is releasing educational videos for people to learn about the contributions Black Canadians have made.
Nipissing Lakers athletes formed the group after watching George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests that followed his death.
“Looking at the landscape of the community and the school’s campus, we realized there wasn’t anything in place for Black students,” said club president Taijon Graham.
Graham then approached his men’s basketball teammates to encourage them to join the club. NUBASE is creating a video series on Black pioneers from all different walks of life throughout the month of February.
"This just reinforces in people’s heads that we’re here and we’ve done some monumental things in society," said NUBASE Co-Founder Shandon Ashitei.
The series highlights Dr. Desmond Anthony. Anthony was one of the original six members who came to North Bay to start Nipissing University College. At that time, it was an affiliate of Laurentian University before the academic institution received its charter in 1992.
Today, he is remembered at the university with a memorial scholarship that bears his name and is presented to an upper year student enrolled in the Bachelor of Science (Honours) Biology program.
"Dr. Desmond Anthony was super influential for the North Bay community. It was humbling to make his video," Graham said. "So, it’s great that at least we’re getting our message out there and helping promote different Black Canadians in their own right."
In conjunction with Black History Month, Nipissing Lakers Athletics is launching this year's #NUunity campaign. NUBASE is hoping that through this campaign it can raise awareness of racial injustice, which is still prevalent in Canada.
"Racism and systemic racism is a problem everywhere in our country and in the United States, and it’s still a problem that needs to be tackled," Ashitei said.
NUBASE said other similar campaigns are taking place at universities across the country and the club hopes to form a larger group with those clubs, which would be dedicated to addressing racial injustice.