Yvan Mongo was a big part of the Gee-Gees run to the OUA finals last season. Photo: Desmond Staples/Fulcrum
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Club members will get to discuss their experiences with racism in hockey and sports with Mongo before games.

On July 3, the University of Ottawa men’s hockey team announced the creation of a special club called “Mongo’s Brave Buddies” on its different social media platforms. Yvan Mongo, a forward on the University of Ottawa men’s hockey team, created the club to make a positive difference in the lives of BIPOC minor hockey players. 

While discussing with his head coach, Patrick Grandmaitre, about the recent events that fill social media and news outlets and important discussions about racisms taking place, Grandmaitre encouraged  Mongo’s to find a way to contribute and help the community. 

“Right then and there I felt like I had to do something,” Mongo said. “Racism has been out there for a long time, but the events that have started in the states, especially the death of George Floyd have opened the eyes of many people. This was the spark that made me feel like this was the time to get involved and do something.”

Together, Mongo and Grandmaitre threw ideas back and forth until the idea of creating a club began to take shape. 

“We had the idea that the kids could come in and just have a chat for a bit before practice or a game and (I could) tell them about my experiences and let them express themselves as well,” Mongo explained. 

“I feel like I’m in the position where I can help younger kids because I’ve been through stuff, I’ve experienced racism on a couple of occasions,” Mongo continued.

The idea of talking to visible minority youth hockey players turned into a bigger experience. Those who participate in Mongo’s Brave Buddies will get to attend a Gee-Gees practice or game where they will get one on one time to talk with Mongo, as well as get a picture, a gift from the Gee-Gees team, and even hit the ice with Mongo. 

There are various things Mongo wants to share with youth players through the club. 

“I want to motivate them and make them feel like they can shoot for the stars. I want them to feel like the colour of their skin and their ethnicity doesn’t matter as an athlete but also as a person,” Mongo said. “I want to give them hope and make them appreciate the game of hockey. I want them to feel like no matter what they look like, they can achieve great things in hockey.”

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 health guidelines, the Gee-Gees 2020-21 season is on hold. This means there is no set date for when people will sign up and participate in Mongo’s Brave Buddies. 

Regardless of the uncertainty in the timeline, since the announcement of Mongo’s Brave Buddies, Mongo has received positive feedback. 

“A lot of people have been saying they are proud that I am doing it, or that they are supportive of the idea,” Mongo said. 

“It’s great to see that people are appreciative of it and I hope that a lot of kids are going to be signing up and wanting to participate.”