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Council aims to create safe and inclusive environment for student athletes while holding university accountable

On Feb. 26, the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees social media accounts announced the creation of the Black Student-Athletes Advocacy Council (BSAAC).

Made up of various athletes on campus, the BSAAC began as an initiative by players on the women’s rugby team to create a safe and inclusive environment, before spreading to other teams on campus. 

Kennedy Baton-Lindsay is one of the two co-presidents of BSAAC. A player on the women’s rugby team, Baton-Lindsay helped form the group with the hope of providing BIPOC student-athletes a comfortable space.

“I wanted others to kind of have that same opportunity to have that safe and inclusive environment that I had [on the women’s rugby team],” Baton-Lindsay said.

“I figured if I was doing it with a lot more different athletes on a varsity scale, then we’d probably get more attention.”

The other co-president of BSAAC is Gee-Gees men’s basketball player, Borys Minger, who hopes they can create something that lasts beyond the current members’ time at the U of O. 

“This needs to be [something] sustainable, it needs to last way beyond my university career and Kennedy’s and anyone’s,” Minger said.  

Minger also notes the opportunity the group has to educate others, as well as the importance of taking the time and initiative to learn. 

“If you have an opportunity to go about your day and meet someone that’s different, then you can learn from them, learn from the group, learn from everyone so that you could treat people as they should be treated.”

While BSAAC is currently made up of a majority of Black student-athletes, the group welcomes anyone who advocates for BIPOC students. 

“We’re not a Black only group, I want to make that super clear,” Baton-Lindsay said. “I think the word advocacy is super important.” 

“If you’re someone who advocates for Black students to feel comfortable, then you’re completely welcome.” 

In the future, Baton-Lindsay would like to see BSAAC become a work-study opportunity for future U of O students. 

“My hope would be that the positions that we’re in end up being work-study positions, so people can get experience and maybe put it on their resume,” Baton-Lindsay said. 

As of right now, the BSAAC includes various roles from president, secretary, communication officers, to a First Nations liaison. As a newly formed group, BSAAC is still figuring out the structural details, and specific goals and initiatives beyond increasing representation and working with Varsity Athletics. 

“I want this to be something that is well respected amongst the university as a whole, and that everybody is aware of,” Baton-Lindsay said. 

“I want for us to be respected by the university as a coalition that is going to hold them accountable.” 

Members of the Black Student-Athletes Advocacy Council 

  • Kennedy Banton Lindsay, women’s rugby, BSAAC co-president
  • Borys Minger, men’s basketball, BSAAC co-president
  • Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu, women’s basketball, secretary
  • Yvan Mongo, men’s hockey, external communication officer
  • Elias Hancock, men’s rugby, external communication officer
  • Ketsia Kamba, women’s rugby, internal communication officer
  • Daniel Oladejo, football, marketing officer
  • Emmanuel Aboagye-Gyan, football, marketing and events aid
  • James Peter, football, marketing and events aid
  • Frednick Eveillard, football, finance officer
  • Nathan Walker, football, engagement and events officer
  • Mayhève Rondeau, swimming, First Nations liaison