“We wanted to make sure that people know that we, as of recently, are an anti-racist organization and club,” says Marvin Okello, the Wanderers’ first inclusivity officer who spearheaded the initiative.
The club has commissioned Birt Beals and Kyleisha Dixon, co-owners of Creations by Kyy, to produce Black Lives Matter shirts to be sold at the Wanderers Fan Shop on Quinpool Road.
“We print these T-shirts right here in Nova Scotia and I hope when people see the message they see this, they feel that we are all together,” Beals says in a news release.
“It’s great to have something to embody that (message), that people can wear and start the conversation,” Okello says.
This initiative is only a part of the Wanderer’s revamped inclusivity and diversity efforts that Okello says started in May, following the death of George Floyd.
Okello says the first move back in May was involving all Wanderers employees, members and sponsors in conversations about upcoming changes and educating them.
He says luckily, everyone was supportive.
“I really made it clear that if we were going to move forward together, it had to be together and that everyone had to be part of the process of if we were gonna do it right,” Okello says.
“I also just applaud (club founder) Derek Martin at the Wonders, as well as my coworkers for having these tough conversations.”
Okello says the goal is to ensure no one interacts with “any sort of racist stance or message, without getting negative repercussions” on Wanderer’s grounds.
“It’s something that in sport you can’t ignore,” Okello says. “Our team is very diverse and our fans are very diverse.”
He says in a diverse city like Halifax, it’s important to fight for inclusivity and Okello believes all businesses should be taking similar initiatives.
“Make sure that you’re hiring a diverse staff that represents the values and morals that you should have as a business.”
Okello says this is just the start of the Wanderers’ commitment to anti-racism.
He says the Wanderers are also responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by partnering with United Way Halifax and selling reusable face masks with proceeds going to the charity.
According to Okello, policies are being designed to ensure that even if he and his team leave the club, these procedures and attitudes continue to be a part of the Wanderers’ identity.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.