The CFL’s Diversity is Strength campaign is back. Last year the league actually launched the campaign earlier than planned as a reaction to violent racially motivated protests in Charlottesville. At the time the message coming from the CFL front office was that this wasn’t a political message but a chance to focus on the positive of bringing people together.
This year the campaign is being launched without such tumultuous background events helping to define it. For 2018 the focus is still on the concept of how bonding together people from diverse backgrounds can make a stronger whole. This time the CFL has named a dozen specific ex players, administrators, coaches etc. as examples of the diverse mix that make up the CFL community and help to make that community stronger through their part in it.
This year, participating teams will wear special edition t-shirts (in their own team colours) on the sidelines and during the pre-games that will be honouring what the CFL defines as ‘trailblazers’. These include the likes of ex Hamilton QB Bernie Custis, Montreal’s Herb Trewick, the first black player in CFL history, and Ottawa’s Jo-Anne Polak, the first female general manager in the CFL and, according to the league, in North American professional sport.
“This initiative builds on the strength of the campaign we launched a year ago, when CFL coaches, players and fans rallied around this positive message by donning Diversity Is Strength t-shirts,” said Commissioner Randy Ambrosie in a league statement.
The league has named at least one person from each franchise to be celebrated. The diverse dozen are:
Wally Buono: BC
Johnny Bright & Joy Moss: Edmonton
Herm Harrison & John Helton: Calgary
Neal Hughes: Saskatchewan
Obby Khan: Winnipeg
Bernie Custis: Hamilton
Orlando Bowen: Toronto
Moton Hopkins & Jo-Ann Polak: Ottawa
Herb Trawick: Montreal
A biography of each person, their background, and their personal import to their team, community or the league can be found under links to a selection of biographies provided by cfl.ca: https://www.cfl.ca/dis
Each one is well worth a read in its own right. One of the great thing about this sport is that it has something to offer for so many people from so many backgrounds and it is tremendous to see the CFL celebrating that in this way.
Image from cfl.ca