Written by D. Laird Allan
February has been dedicated as black history month. Our country has a long, rich and many times rocky history for black Canadians. As this site is dedicated to sports, this article will touch on the black influence to all sports over the years.
It is a well know fact that Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier in MLB in 1947 in New York. It is unknown by most and a great trivia question – Robinson first signed a professional contract and played in his first professional game in Montreal, on April 18th, 1946 as a rookie second baseman for the Montreal Royals Triple AAA Baseball Club. His superb play was a contributing factor to the Royals winning the 1946 Little World Series.
Willie O’Ree was born October 15th, 1935 in Fredericton, New Brunswick. O’Ree broke the colour barrier in the NHL playing his first game for the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadians in the Forum in Montreal on January 15th, 1958.
Harry Winston Jerome was born on September 30th, 1940 in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. During the 1960’s, Jerome was one of the most feared 100m sprinters in the world. In his career of running for Canada, he won gold at the 1966 Commonwealth Games, gold at the 1967 Pan American Games and competed in the 1960, 1964 and 1968 Summer Olympic Games, capturing bronze in 1964. He set the world record in the 100m. race four times, 1960 – 10.2s, 1961 – 9.3s., 1962 – 9.2s. and 1966 – 9.1s. From the age of twelve Harry Jerome and family made their home in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Harry Jerome died on December 7th, 1982.
I had the opportunity to interview Vancouver Giants #9, Evander Kane regarding his thoughts on Black History month. He is from Vancouver and came up through the North Shore Winter Club Minor Hockey League Program in North Vancouver, B.C. As well as playing for the Giants, He was a member of the 2008/2009 Jr. World Champion Gold Medal Team.
SW: Evander, last month was Black History month. I just wondered if you had any comments or thoughts on that celebration.
AK: It is obviously a month where you can celebrate black history. Throughout Canada and the Americas, it’s a good month to kind of look back and remember what happened with the blacks and the slavery and I think it is just good to celebrate and remember what the people went through back then.
SW: Do you think of yourself as a black hockey player or just a hockey player?
AK: I know I am a black hockey player and I am happy to be one.
SW: You have had a good run this year, especially the World Juniors. How has that, if any changed you attitude as a hockey player and a person?
EK: Well it definitely helped me. You know playing at such a prestigious tournament , I think it made me a more mature hockey player. Just being on the world stage definitely helped my game and me as a person as well.
SW: Favourite hockey player?
EK: My favourite hockey player would probably be Jarome Iginla (Calgary Flames) or Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals). Just because they are both exciting players to watch and they both like to score goals.
The day after this interview, Evander Kane was chosen as a member of the WHL, Western Conference first All Star Team.