Being born and raised in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia had its challenges to say the least. Racism was a prevalent aspect of life. Its effects had a negative impact on who I thought myself to be, my view of society and my place in it. As a result, I was faced with the choice of seeing myself as a “victim” or taking charge of my life and determining my own destiny. After much soul-searching and reflection, I chose the latter option and moved on.
As an all-round athlete, I played and excelled in baseball, basketball and even hockey. In the first two sports, I was, for the most part, accepted and respected by teammates and coaches a like. In terms of hockey, I was the “first black” in 1967 to play in the Atlantic Intercollegiate Hockey League (AIHL) with Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. During my first 2 years, I was often the target of racial slurs and other indignities from opposing players as well as their fans. Two other local black players (Darrell Maxwell and Percy Paris) later joined the team and in 1970 we played together in a couple of games thus becoming the “first-all black forward line” in the history of Canadian university and college hockey. Eventually, other blacks would play in the AIHL such as NHL player Joel Ward (University of Prince Edward Island) of the San Jose Sharks.
Rather than pursing a hockey career in the NHL, which appeared to have an “unofficial policy of exclusion” against blacks between 1961 and 1974, I went on to Dalhousie University and graduated in 1973 with a Masters Degree in Social Work. After graduating, an opportunity presented itself and I joined the Public Service of Canada with the idea and hope of somehow making a difference. During my 37 years of service, I worked in the field of human resources management in the areas of career development/talent management, employment equity/diversity and recruitment/staffing. In looking back on my career, I take comfort in the fact that I endeavored to make a difference wherever I could. As it turns out, I was able, through the commitment and support of senior management, to develop and effect changes to policies, programs and practices to help create a more representative and inclusive federal Public Service for visible minorities, Aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities.
When not working or playing hockey, I sat on boards and worked with community groups and organizations, law enforcement agencies on issues related to employment equity, racism and discrimination, race-relations and police-community relations. As a contributing senior sports writer for Box Score World Sportswire, I’ve tried over the past several years to make a difference by raising awareness of the issues and achievements of blacks in various sports.
Regardless of our challenges in life and our differences, I firmly believe that it’s within all of us to make a difference wherever we can; we just have to “bring the inside out”. After all, it takes each of us to make a difference for all of us.