Black Cultural Celebration 13

As we wrap up Black History Month it seems like a fitting time to look back on all that the Senators did to celebrate black history and black culture here in the National Captial Region.

Early in the month, the Senators took the opportunity to highlight the current black players within our system. First, a player profile for Bellevile's Boko Imama and his journey as a first generation Canadian growing up with hockey in Montreal to now being a professional hockey player. Imama recognizes the importance in being a role model as a player of colour in hockey and the changing representation and inclusion within the game of hockey.

Boko Imama Black Culture Celebration profile

After that the Senators took the opportunity to highlight the personality of their electric forward Mathieu Joseph. In the Sens game against Nashville Joseph was mic'd up and did not disappoint, providing an inside look at the game through his eyes with  commentary that will leave you in stitches.

Mathieu Joseph Mic'd Up

On Feb. 15 the Senators celebrated their annual Celebrating Black History Night at Canadian Tire Centre, a night to celebrate the many facets of black culture while raising money for the youth in our commuity.

Fans in attendance could find celebrations of black culture through out Canadian Tire Centre. Around the concourse were vendors of black owned businesses such as Black Global Enterprises Inc. and the CaKU Collection who were selling carvings, home decor, leather placemats, beaded Jewlery, African crafts jewelry, dolls, purses, clothing, and more.

Along with the vendors were Black History Ottawa and the African Hockey Association who had set up booths to educate fans on their causes and what they are up to in our community.

Additionally, at the top of Gate 1 were banners celebrating all of the Black former Senators players.

Black Cultural Celebration 6

Prior to puck drop there were two celebrations to take in beginning with KellyLee Evans performing the Canadian and American National Anthems before the ceremonial first puck drop.

Black Cultural Celebration 1

The ceremonial first puck drop was performed by Jacquie Dixon, a member of the Board of Directors with Hockey Eastern Canada, Dineo Molepo Stearns, a youth hockey player for Kanata Rangers within Kanata Girls Hockey Assocation, and Godlove Ngwafusi, founder and general manager of the African Hockey Association.

Black Cultural Celebration 2

Lastly, the Senators had partnered with the Outreach Social Care Foundation as their charitable partner for the night and through the funds raised were able to present a cheque valued at $30,000 at the end of the night to put toward black youth programming.

Black Cultural Celebration 3

Following their game against the Vegas Golden Knights, with the team on the road the Senators welcomed more than 250 youths from disadvantaged neighbourhoods in our community to Canadian Tire Centre to participate in the I Love to Skate wrap up event. The I Love to Skate program is run in tandem by the Senators Community Foundation, the City of Ottawa, and Canadian Tire Jumpstart charities who provide the helmets and skates to all the kids.

The day saw kids being addressed by Ottawa Mayor, Mark Sutcliffe before taking to the ice to skate on the same ice as the Ottawa Senators with Spartacat in tow. After the skate they made their way upstairs for a pizza party with pizza provided by Gabriel Pizza.

On Tuesday night, Canadian Tire Centre played host once again to another celebration. Black History Ottawa Hosted the third Annual Commemorative Hockey Game celebrating the Coloured Hockey League of the Maritimes (CHLM), featuring players from the African Hockey Association. It was a full scale affair with a pregame anthem sung by Jisca Umba, while Canadian broadcaster Adrian Harewood provided the TV broadcast of the event.

CHLM Skate 2

Prior to the game, the African Hockey Association held a youth hockey clinic with a splash of Senators in the mix. Former Thunder Bay Senators defenceman Llew NcWana ran the clinic teaching the lessons gleaned over the course of his career, feeding into the love of the game for the next generation of hockey players here.

CHLM Skate 1

It was a great month celebrating Black culture here in the Nations Capital, and a success to say the least. As the stewards of the community the Senators organization acts as, we look forward to seeing all the ways they will continue to make hockey an inclusive space and grow the game we all love.