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December 30, 2008

First African Canadian NHL player among new members of Order of Canada

Willie O'Ree, the first black player to compete in the NHL, is one of 60 people named today to various ranks within the Order of Canada.
Two Canadian singing stars, Celine Dion and tenor Ben Heppner, were elevated to Companions of the Order, the highest of the three rankings. Also elevated to the Companion level were Barrick Gold founder and chairman Peter Munk and investment guru Stephen Jarislowsky of Montreal.

It was on Jan. 18, 1958 when O'Ree, a native of Fredericton, N.B., played for the Boston Bruins in a game against the Canadiens in Montreal.
O'Ree was playing senior hockey for the Quebec Aces when Boston called him up for a game in the Montreal Forum.

There were no racial slurs hurled at O'Ree that night. Jackie Robinson, the first black major-league baseball player, had been on a team in Montreal so seeing a black man in a major sport was nothing new to sports fans of the city, and O'Ree had previously skated in the city with the Aces.

O'Ree, 73, is now the director of youth development for the NHL's diversity program, which provides access to the sport for children throughout North America. It's a full-time job he took 10 years ago. Continue reading here

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

that is SO cool!


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