A Hurdle to Success

The Path to Pan Am/Parapan Am Legacy

A panel discussion series in light of the upcoming 2015 Pan Am/Para Pan Am Games on sports as a means of access to post-secondary education for Indigenous and racialized young people.

A Hurdle to Success is a panel discussion series happening between 2014 and 2015, leading up to the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games. Presented by the University of Toronto’s Anti-Racism & Cultural Diversity Office, First Nations House, the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, Hart House, the University of Toronto Scarborough, the Centre for Sport Policy Studies and the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Ignite Initiatives; the series explores the experiences of Indigenous and racialized young people seeking success in sports and post-secondary education.

What are the opportunities and challenges Indigenous and racialized student athletes face? Are sports a “level-playing field” for marginalized youth? Given many of the socio-economic and structural barriers to full-access and participation in elite sports and higher education, we as what are the realities faced by Indigenous and racialized young people navigating these institutions? Through this series, we attempt to explore these questions by bringing forward the experiences of marginalized student athletes supported by the experiences of community members, coaches, and academic’s researching in this field.

The series focuses on three main questions:

  • Recruitment and Access: What are the unique experiences and the nuanced ways in which Indigenous and racialized youth access education through sports?
  • Retention: What are the experiences of Indigenous and racialized student athletes seeking success athletically and academically once they have entered post-secondary institutions?
  • Path to Enter Professional Athletic Careers: What are the challenges associated with the successful transition from Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) into a professional athletic career or into multi-level sporting events like Pan Am/Parapan Am?

Phase 1: “Access, Retention and the Culture of Sport at the University of Toronto”

The first phase involved a panel discussion held at the University of Toronto on January 22, 2014 critically examining whether sport and post-secondary education really are “level-playing fields” for Indigenous and racialized students.The panel included:

  • Janice Forsyth, Assistant Professor and Director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario;
  • Jason Sealy, Assistant Coach and Leadership Coordinator for the Ryerson Rams Women’s Basketball Team;
  • Greg Gary, Head Coach of U of T’s Varsity Blues Football Team;
  • Mike Auksi, U of T Alumnus and current professional hockey player in Estonia; and
  • Nathaniel Virgo, current U of T student and member of the Varsity Blues Men’s Volleyball Team.

For more information check out the article “Dissecting Race, Education and Sport” by the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education’s Adrienne Harry.

Phase 2: Symposium—September 27, 2014—at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC)

The second instalment of the Hurdle to Success series—a free full-day symposium bringing together student athletes, community members, sport professionals and academics to discuss critical issues and the experiences of Indigenous and racialized students engaged in post-secondary athletics—will take place on Saturday, September 27th at the University of Toronto Scarborough from 9:00am to 4:00pm.

The symposium will feature keynote presentations and panel discussions from community members, academics and sport professionals including renowned social and political activist, and former Olympian, Waneek Horn-Miller and Paul Jones, Sportscaster for the Toronto Raptors.Breakout discussion sessions throughout the day will explore challenges and opportunities in three areas:

  • How Indigenous and racialized youth access and are recruited to post-secondary athletics;
  • How marginalized student athletes successfully pursue, complete, and graduate post-secondary education; and
  • The successful transition to professional sport including Pan Am/Parapan Am.

Bussing is available to the University of Toronto Scarborough from East Scarborough Boys & Girls Club, Heron Park Community Centre, East Scarborough Storefront, and Mornelle Court. If you would like to travel on one of the busses coming from these locations please see the bus schedule.

All youth under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a guardian or bring a permission form.

If you are sending or accompanying youth to the Symposium please email antiracism@utoronto.ca or call 416-978-1259 with the number of youth that will be travelling with you or that you will be sending to the Symposium. There will be supervised coordinated athletic activities happening during the event for any youth in attendance who wish to participate. We would like to get a sense of how many youth will attend so we can prepare accordingly. Participants must fill out a consent form in order to participate (see link for permission forms above).

Join us as we continue the conversation exploring success in sports and school!

Space is limited. Register at ahurdletosuccess.eventbrite.ca
Have comments, questions or feedback? Join the conversation on Facebook!

Symposium Speakers & Panellists


  1. Paul Jones
    Sportscaster, Toronto Raptors
  2. Waneek Horn-Miller
    Former Olympian (Water polo) and Activist

Access & Recruitment Panel:

  1. Howard Moriah
    Manager, East Scarborough Boys & Girls Club
  2. Dr. Lynn Lavallée
    Associate Professor, School of Social Work, Ryerson University
  3. Sherwyn Benn
    Assistant Coach, Ryerson Rams Women’s Basketball Team, Ryerson University
  4. Lance Dioubate
    Student, University of Toronto Scarborough

Retention Panel:

  1. Beth Ali
    Director of High Performance & Intercollegiate Sport, University of Toronto
  2. Dr. Carl James
    Director, York Centre for Education & Community, Faculty of Education, York University
  3. Sandy Wells
    PhD Candidate, University of British Columbia
  4. Malinda Hapuarachchi
    Student, University of Toronto; Assistant Coach, Varsity Blues Field Hockey

Pathway to Sport Professions/Multi-level Sport Panel:

  1. Anson Henry
    Canadian National Team, 100m sprinter
  2. Hernan Humana
    Parent, Elite Volleyball Player
  3. Vanessa Restrepo
    Toronto 2015 PanAm Athlete, Karate
  4. Elodie Li
    Assistant Coach, Varsity Blues Volleyball; Mauritian Beach Volleyball Player