Special Olympics Manitoba’s Duane Brothers reflects on Black History Month, fostering diversity and inclusion in sport – and in life


For Black History Month, we are celebrating Special Olympics’ Black athletes, volunteers and supporters  who fight for inclusion every day on and off the field.

Meet Duane Brothers, Chair of Special Olympics Manitoba. He started his career as a high school history teacher and basketball coach and went on to serve as an Assistant Superintendent and Superintendent of multiple school divisions in Winnipeg. Read below for a Q&A as he reflects on Black History Month.

Q: Is there a black athlete who has inspired you?

A: Jackie Robinson, who broke the colour line in Major League Baseball in 1947. A true trailblazer and a role model for all generations that followed. He demonstrated excellence and grace, while facing discrimination on a daily basis.

Q: Why is diversity and inclusion important in sport?

A: Sport needs to be open to all, because it can improve all lives in body and mind. When there is diversity and inclusion, new and positive relationships can be fostered that not have otherwise been developed. As well, we can all recognize that when there is diversity, sports improve in all factors of the game!

Q: How do you fight for inclusion?

A: I fought for inclusion when I coached basketball, everyone was welcome and I sought out people of different backgrounds. I fought for inclusion in writing my Master’s and PhD dissertations, both of which explored issues of race in public schooling. As an Assistant Superintendent and as a Superintendent, I supported programs that prepare Indigenous and teachers from other countries for teaching positions in Winnipeg. As well, I ensured that people of colour were being hired as teachers.

Thank you, Duane!

Stay tuned throughout the month of February as we continue to celebrate Black History Month and highlight Black voices from Special Olympics across Canada.

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