Raptors help open new basketball court in Sheguiandah community on Manitoulin Island

The Toronto Raptors helped launch a new court in Sheguiandah and host a basketball clinic on the weekend. CityNews' Sports Reporter Lindsay Dunn has the story.

By Lindsay Dunn

The Toronto Raptors are working to make an impact away from the court and this weekend brought them to the community of Sheguiandah on Manitoulin Island.

Raptors executives were on site to unveil a new basketball court and host a basketball clinic as a part of the NBA 75th Anniversary project.

“Under the concept of ‘nothing about us without us,’ We wanted to go into the community and involve the community in the design, the layout, everything they felt their community needed,” said John Wiggins, Raptors’ Vice President of Organizational Culture and Inclusion.

Fifteen members from the Sheguiandah community aged 15 to 26 years old helped design the project and made sure the court reflected their vision and community.

“We had a group of leaders throughout Sheguiandah who we sat with multiple times, both virtually and in person, to give us guidance, give us input, and lend their perspective to what they wanted to see as a legacy project in their community,” explained Wiggins.

Jordon Panamick, a community mentor with Right to Play Sheguiandah said it was amazing to see it come together with that youth involvement.

“It was important to have their voices involved, to build their confidence and really empower them with this project. And you can really see that in them,” said Panamick. “They like that they were a part of the project from start to finish and you can see them stand a little bit taller and they’re like, ‘We did this’.”

“Being able to engage in basketball where there was no other basketball court, indoor or outdoor in the community, gives them a space where they can go and they can have fun,” Wiggins added.

Wiggins said they wanted to ensure they made an impact on the community, especially with respect to Indigenous Relations. “I think out team wanted to make sure we continue to go back and not just show up once or twice.”

He tells CityNews the space also serves as a community gathering for community ceremonies, blessings, smudging [and] any of the activities that their community enjoys.

new basketball court built in partnership with the Toronto Raptors and MLSE.

New basketball court built in partnership with the Toronto Raptors and MLSE. Photo credit: Toronto Raptors.

[The Raptors] really brought the community together and created conversations where we learned about each other and really created friendships along the way,” shared Panamick.

It’s been just over one year since all MLSE teams started to include a land acknowledgement at their home arena.

And now, for every press conference a raptors player has at home or on the road that isn’t a practice, the backdrop behind them now reads, “Every Child Matters.”

“The injustices and oppressions that are happening to Indigenous people are something that our entire organization is very passionate about. And it was time for us to put that at the forefront as well,” said Wiggins.

The banner previously said, “Black Lives Matter.” About the change, Wiggins said, “Unfortunately, there’s only one banner, but and there’s only so much we can put on it.”

“I would say they are equally in our heart and in our action as initiatives and fights within social justice that we want to advance and we’re not going to stop those conversations.”

With files from Meredith Bond



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