TTC bus wraps highlight Indigenous athletes

The TTC and the Toronto Raptors have covered eight TTC buses and five streetcars with wraps highlighting the contributions of eight Indigenous athletes.

“Let’s all celebrate the incredible contributions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people to sport in Canada and internationally. Sport is so powerful in helping young people reach their potential and I commend the Toronto Raptors and TTC for this inspiring campaign,” said Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow in a Nov. 13 press release.

Starting Nov. 13, this initiative is a commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Action 87 which calls all levels of government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples and organizations, to provide public education that tells the national story of Aboriginal athletes in history.

Recent progress in regard to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Action 87 includes:

The 2022 award recipients formally received their awards at the 2022 Canada’s Sport Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony as well as the 2022 National Indigenous Coaching Awards Recipients formally received their awards at the 2022 Coaching Association of Canada Petro-Canada Sport Leadership Gala.

Some next steps in regard to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Action 87 include:

The Aboriginal Sport Circle is engaging with Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame to continue to promote the Tom Longboat Award and other relevant recognition projects. The 2023 awards were presented in October 2023 during Canada’s Sport Hall of Fame Order of Sport Awards ceremony. The Aboriginal Sport Circle presents the National Indigenous Coaching Awards annually at the Petro-Canada Leadership Gala, in collaboration with the Coaching Association of Canada. The 2023 awards will be presented in November 2023 during the Petro-Canada Sport Leadership Awards Gala, hosted by the Coaching Association of Canada.

“On behalf of the 16,000 team members here at the TTC, I want to thank the Toronto Raptors for choosing to partner with us on this campaign. TTC buses and streetcars are iconic in Toronto and an ideal canvas for celebrating Indigenous athletes, inspiring people of all ages and cultures throughout the city,” said TTC CEO Rick Leary.

The buses and streetcars are the canvas for inspiring images, inviting riders and the public to witness eight athletes’ place in history, including:

Tom Longboat – The first Indigenous person to win the Boston Marathon (1907). An Onondaga from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, Longboat won the Boston Marathon (a distance of approximately 40 kilometres) in record time.

Kendra Jessie – Assistant Coach, U18, Alberta Women’s Hockey Team. Jessie is a certified personal fitness trainer, Nike N7 athlete and wellness facilitator who advocates for healing and balance within Indigenous communities through mindful movement, holistic health and cultural practices.

Michael Linklater – Retired number one FIBA basketball player in Canada. Advocacy. Linklater founded a campaign called Boys With Braids to raise awareness of the cultural significance of braided hair as worn by Indigenous boys and men. His aim was to educate all on the importance and significance of indigenous traditions.

Emily Mandamin – The first person from Iskatewizaagegan to earn a full college basketball scholarship.

Joleen Mitton – Founder, All My Relations Basketball Team and Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week. Through the organization Urban Butterflies, she helps Indigenous youth in foster care connect with their culture. She’s an athlete, advocate, activist, and former model.

Joy Spearchief-Morris – Spearchief-Morris is an Indigenous Black Canadian writer, advocate, and athlete. She is a member of the Kainai Blood Tribe and grew up in Lethbridge, Alta. Joy is a retired 100-metre hurdler in athletics, a three-time Canadian National Championship finalist and a two-time Team Canada member. As a member of Team Canada, she is a 2014 North American Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) U23 silver medalist and a fifth-place finisher at the 2019 FISU World Universidad.

Richard Peter – Three-time Paralympic champion (Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, London 2012) in wheelchair basketball.

Mike Tanton – Co-founder of One Love Basketball and the Living Skies Indigenous Basketball League.

The athletes are also featured on posters in TTC stations and onboard vehicles. A QR code on each creative will direct the user to the Raptors’ Culture Page with more information on each athlete.

“We all have the collective responsibility to advance reconciliation and renew the relationship with Indigenous peoples. We are thankful and honoured for the opportunity to recognize the eight athletes featured in this initiative, and we encourage everyone to take the time to learn more about their valuable contributions to all our communities,” said John Wiggins, Toronto Raptors culture, inclusion and impact vice president.

The campaign is running now until the end of February 2024.

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