In the wake of the hate crime in June that devastated the community, and the country, the Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs Alumni will travel to London, Ontario in October to hold two events as a show of support to stand against hate anywhere and everywhere, and to use the power that sport has to bring people together.
As part of the team’s pre-season, and its return to play in Canada, the Raptors will hold its annual open practice at London’s Budweiser Gardens on Saturday, October 2nd. On Sunday, October 3rd, the Leafs Alumni will face each other in a game and will include Wendel Clark, Darcy Tucker, Tomáš Kaberle, Nik Antropov, Rick Vaive and many more former members of the Maple Leafs.
“As was famously said by Nelson Mandela, sport has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. MLSE and its teams wanted to show support to London and the Muslim community following the tragic events this past summer and to use our teams’ voices to stand against hate, violence and racism,” said Teri Dennis-Davies, Senior Vice President of People & Inclusion at MLSE. “We want our commitment to go outside of our venues and beyond this one weekend and help the members of this and all communities heal and move forward, while putting a focus on providing equitable access to sport for youth, and reminding them that they are all welcomed across all our teams.”
To provide lasting change and access to sport for London’s youth, MLSE and MLSE Foundation are working with the City of London and local Muslim Community Stakeholders to develop a legacy project in the city. The project is rooted in the community’s need and will be an infrastructure investment that will be announced officially on the weekend of the events.
“The London community is very pleased to work with MLSE to provide leadership, engage our youth and unite the community through the power of sports at a difficult time to combat hate in all its forms,” said Nusaiba Al-Azem, Second Vice Chair, London Muslim Mosque.
“I will remain forever grateful for the love and support my family has received. My aunt, Madiha Salman, was the epitome of strength, the embodiment of hard work and a pillar for her community. An event like this, which champions community and stands for anti-hate, is a perfect way to honour her legacy,” said Hajra Najam, family member.
Due to current health and safety protocols, capacity at Budweiser Gardens for both events will be limited to 1,000 people with a minimum donation of $20 required for the Raptors open practice and a ticket price of $20 for the Maple Leafs Alumni game. Proceeds will benefit MLSE Foundation’s Change the Game campaign, which aims to build awareness and help eliminate barriers facing thousands of youth, giving them more equitable opportunities to recognize and reach their potential.