Ultimate Canada Magazine – February 13, 2019

Black History Month takes place in Canada every February. Canadians are invited to participate in Black History Month festivities and events that honour the legacy of Black Canadians, past and present. You can find more information about the month here.

Remi Jr. Ojo. Photo/Daniel Bergson

Our first profile features Remi Jr. Ojo, a long time player for Toronto’s GOAT. Ojo has also represented Canada at the U24 and senior level.

Ultimate Canada: How did you get started in Ultimate?

Remi Ojo: I was first introduced to Ultimate in High School. Actually, it’s an interesting story; During the spring semester, I was a track and field athlete, and for the life of me I just hated going to practice. Turns out the only way to get out of it, was to have another sports commitment at the same time and ultimate was the only other sport in that time slot. So that was my introduction to ultimate. What peaked my interest and kept me coming back for more was when I attended sectionals in 2010 or 2011 and watched GOAT play. The way they moved the disc around the field (“in flow” as I’ve now learned) was awesome and I hoped that one day I’d be able to play at that level, and hopefully, with those guys.

UC: How has your experience been, being a player of colour in the community?

Ojo competed with GOAT at WUCC 2018. Photo/VC Ultimate

RO: My experience as a player of colour in the ultimate community has been very positive, which might directly be a result of the environment/community that I have played in. My life experiences have also been very similar and representative of my ultimate experience whereby my high school and university had marginal black populations. Ultimate was just another reflection of the life (and racial makeup) I was accustomed to.

As an ultimate player I’ve always felt welcomed and that I was part of a community, regardless of the team or organization I’ve been fortunate enough to represent or be a member of. It has also been really cool to see systems like Downtown Brown promoting inclusion. The only questionable experience would be how I acquired the “Black Dragon” nickname from an ESPN commentator in a championship final. But it’s kind of stuck now as a joke.

Ojo gets a layout block at WUCC 2018. Photo/VC Ultimate

UC: Do you have any thoughts on how we can increase participation from the Black community in Ultimate?

RO: I really love all the resources dedicated to gender equity, so I would love to see a similar focus when it comes to diversity and inclusion. I think the expansion of an outreach committee that focuses on increasing the visibility of the sport for juniors in marginalized communities. I think the Black History Month Features initiative is a step in the right direction to put role models in the forefront to inspire others. Another step would be increasing the representation at clinics and camps within our sport. Another last step would be developing an initiative similar to the GUM (Girls Ultimate Movement) program that we find in the states to increase the participation of black people.