The NHL is celebrating Black History Month in February, and throughout the month, NHL.com will be featuring people of color who have or are looking to make their mark in the hockey world.
To start the month, Ottawa Senators forward Anthony Duclair writes about what Black History Month means to him.
Black History Month is important to me because I am proud of my background.
I'm Canadian, born in Montreal, but my family is from Haiti. Both my parents were born there. All my family and cousins, we have the same roots, speak Creole and eat Haitian food at home.
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For me, Black History Month is more than just attending a particular event. It's a time for reflection. It's about recognizing and honoring the past, from the great moments in history to the people involved in them.
I think about my sport. Obviously, hockey is a mostly white male sport. There aren't too many black, African, hockey players in the NHL. To be one of those guys is an honor for me and I just want to do as well as I can.
For the younger generation you see now, hockey is growing as a sport, not only in the black community but every race and religion, and it's nice to see.
For myself growing up, I idolized guys who paved the way, guys like Anson Carter, Georges Laraque, whose family is also from Haiti.
Obviously, Willie O'Ree is a big name for me. Knocking down those barriers and becoming the NHL's first black player in January 1958, that was a huge piece of history in my house.
Video: MET@ATL: Duclair nets hatty for Atlantic in Game 1
Jarome Iginla is another guy I looked up to, not just because he was black but because he was such a great hockey player. I remember when he scored his 600th goal in January 2016. He was playing for the Colorado Avalanche against the Los Angeles Kings.
Scoring 600 goals, that's a huge accomplishment that not many players, black or white, reach. I want to follow in his footsteps.
But my black history heroes aren't just hockey players or well-known figures in history books. My personal hero is my dad.
He's been a big influence in my life. He's the one who took me skating for the first time when I was 2. I looked up to him when I was young because of the way he carried himself.
He's very respectful to everybody, very giving. Also, very tough, very strict, which was good because it helped me become the man I am today.
Video: Mobile museum celebrates black achievement in hockey
I think the biggest lessons I've learned from black history is to persevere and overcome. Believe in yourself. It doesn't matter what people tell you what you can or can't do.
If you believe you can do it, work as hard as you can to do it. You've got to work as hard as you can and make sure you achieve that goal. I'm living proof of that. Over the last couple of seasons, I had been bouncing around, people were telling me this and that. I always believed in myself, never doubted myself and it's one of the reasons why I'm still here today.