Pro athlete strikes show complexities between sport and labour movement

by Amanda Bishop

Simon Black, Assistant Professor in the Department of Labour Studies at Brock University.

Last week’s strike action by professional athletes to protest police violence and anti-Black racism yielded decisive results, with the National Basketball Association (NBA) quickly announcing an agreement to open facilities as voting centres for the American election in November.

Simon Black, a Brock University an expert on labour movements in sport, says that in the past, “Black athletes and their allies have withdrawn their labour to protest injustice, but never on this scale with this impact.”

“What we saw last week was an unprecedented strike wave for racial justice across professional sports,” says Black, Assistant Professor in the Department of Labour Studies. “Sport will continue to be a site of resistance to racism and social injustice, and students in ‘Labour of Sport’ will engage with both the history of athlete activism and this new wave of protest, in some cases by virtually meeting athlete activists taking a stand in their sport.”

Students in Black’s Labour of Sport course this fall will have the opportunity to hear from sporting and labour experts from Canada, the U.S. and Venezuela who are able to visit the class virtually, thanks to its new online format.

The guests are an impressive assembly of athletes and activists who advocate for labour protections in sport including:

  • Khamica Bingham, a Canadian Olympian and 100-metre national women’s champion who has spoken on the issue of anti-Black racism in sport and her experiences as a Black female athlete.
  • Leslie Smith, a mixed martial artist (MMA) and President of Project Spearhead, the nascent MMA fighters’ union known for taking on the most powerful MMA promotion company in the world, the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
  • Arturo J. Marcano Guevera, a lawyer and author who has written extensively on Major League Baseball’s negative impacts in Latin America, including the book Stealing Lives: The Globalization of Baseball and the Tragic Story of Alexis Quiroz, which is one of the course texts.

Black is excited to welcome the guests, who will help students gain perspective on the complex relationships between sport and labour — complexities that Black can personally relate to, as someone whose aspirations of a career in professional soccer helped lead him to his current role as an academic.

After winning the U19 national championship with his Oakville team, he was invited to try out for Watford Football Club before eventually playing NCAA Division 1 soccer at the State University of New York (SUNY) Buffalo.

“At UB, I got involved in the anti-sweatshop and global justice movements,” says Black. “When I wasn’t playing soccer or studying for my undergrad degree in Sociology, I would be at protests like the big demonstration against the IMF and World Bank in Washington, D.C. in 2000. Sport, workers’ rights and social justice have always intersected in my life.”

The Labour of Sport class, which is cross-listed between Labour Studies and Sport Management, invites students to take a critical approach to sport as work and elite athletes as workers.

“Students examine the lives of working athletes, both professional and amateur, and how athletes make a living from their sport and how they experience their work,” Black says. “We explore everything from health and safety and the perils of injury, to the relationship between sport-governing bodies/teams/leagues/promoters and athlete-workers, to how various forms of oppression, such as racism, sexism and homophobia, shape athletes’ experiences of their work.”

The Department of Labour Studies aims to offer what Black describes as “a range of practical, unique and thought-provoking courses, some of which are unique in the world.”

But the Labour of Sport course seems especially timely this term.

“We haven’t seen this kind of disruption to the worldwide sporting calendar since World War II,” Black says. “Athletes’ unions and player associations have played a crucial role in ensuring that athlete health and safety is a top priority in those leagues that have reopened, but in those sports in which athletes do not have the benefit of unionization and a collective bargaining agreement, where they lack the power of collective voice and action, their livelihoods are in peril — either through cancellations without compensation, lack of government support in the case of Olympic athletes, or being forced to play in unsafe and unhealthy conditions.”


This article originally appeared here on

The Ethics of Songs

For many artists and workers in the performing arts, the pandemic restrictions on large social gatherings has been difficult. No more live shows and concerts for choirs, theatre companies, orchestras, dance troupes. And lots of artists, and the many behind-the-scene folks who support the performers on stage, wondering what the future holds.

We understand why these measures are in place, and we know that for many in our society the pandemic has been much harder, although I do feel for younger artists who must wonder if they will ever have the chance to work in large groups, in front of a large audience, any time soon.

In the meantime, there has been tremendous creativity in presenting art of all kinds online. Some artists are showing what invention really means! For me personally, I must say I miss the immediacy of live sound. Something about hearing the sound coming directly from its source, with no intermediate steps!

In the first month or so after the lockdown, I spent lots of time listening to music, and playing our old piano at home, which was a lovely luxury. Now, as it becomes clear that the performing arts are going to be very different for the foreseeable future, it has become more challenging, trying to figure out how to plan and prepare for a lot of unknowns.

So it was a real delight to be approached by Laura Menard (many TSP folks will know Laura for her work with Viva Youth Singers) to contribute a short webcast for the Centre for Ethics at the University of Toronto. What is the Centre for Ethics? I must say I had to ask that question when Laura got in touch. Looking at their website (https://, I learned that the Centre for Ethics is “an interdisciplinary centre aimed at advancing research and teaching in the field of ethics, broadly defined. The Centre seeks to bring together the theoretical and practical knowledge of diverse scholars, students, public servants and social leaders in order to increase understanding of the ethical dimensions of individual, social, and political life.”

The Centre has created very interesting webcasts on a variety of subjects (the ethics of Black Lives Matter, of artificial intelligence, of COVID-19), and they had decided to present a small series called “The Ethics of Songs.” The mandate was quite open- ended, and I was intrigued.

I decided I could do something about a song I had just learned from some friends, called “Tiny Perfect Moles,” with words by Margaret Atwood from her novel The Year of the Flood. In that novel, there is a religious group called God’s Gardeners who gather to worship and to sing hymns, and Atwood wrote words for their hymns. There is no sheet music in the novel, but the lyrics fit beautifully to a number of hymn-tunes, and my good friend and colleague Alan Gasser had set “Tiny Perfect Moles” to an old shape-note tune. The words speak of earthworms, and nematodes, and moles, all of whom help maintain the health of soil, but who work unseen by human sight. This image made me think of the great feminist, activist and scientist Ursula Franklin, who talked of the “earthworm theory of civic engagement,” and I decided any chance to explore more of Ursula Franklin’s thought and speeches was not to be missed. The result is a short fifteen-minute webcast which will be first aired on September 2, and then available for viewing. The Ethics of Songs is a whole series of songs and presenters that some folks might find interesting. Thanks, Laura, for the invitation – the project was a welcome relief from more anxiety-producing work at the moment!

David Fallis

Catch David’s episode starting on September 2!

Here is information about the whole series:

A few words of greeting from Don Middleton, August 13, 2020

“He will lift you up on angels’ wings”

I discovered that angels are very real and they are the people who have known and supported me at TSP through the dark days at St. Michael’s Hospital, in my recovering days at Bridgepoint and in the visits I’ve had since I came home.

The matter of the Prayer List has been for me always somewhat of a hollow part of the Sunday service because for the names on the list we never knew whether they were dead, dying or improving, born or married, and so we really did not know what we were praying for.  I think the idea could be upgraded when we get back to normal service by a few notes in the bulletin that explain the situation we are praying for. I will add a bit of humour because I have not ever encouraged putting my name in the Prayer List.  Some years back, after my being in the hospital for 10 days, Karen and Hal found out I was in the hospital and came to see me after service, complaining about the fact that I had not asked to be on the Prayer List.  With usual Middleton incisive rapport I said, “Well, if it didn’t work it would be bad for your business.”

This note should contain my feelings toward the pastoral care I received from Cheri.  On my darkest days she appeared regularly in my room to shepherd me into choosing to live and for this I am grateful. Also, Colin offered messages of hope for my continued participation in my pink world.

I would add that I had a nice call from the Wednesday Prayer Group indicating that I had been included. I further add on the issue of prayer, a quotation that I often repeat to myself: “Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, uttered or unexpressed; it is the motion of the hidden fire that trembles in your breast”

I would take a moment to say for those of us who are not out socializing that a telephone call is very important. I find it difficult to call out because I have to have Filomeno dial the call. But perhaps to give you another laugh, on a really bad day I may only get a call from a scammer and I have found a way to entertain myself but not them.  If it’s a man I ask them how old they are, if they are good-looking and whether I am to meet them at the subway station as the sex partner I had ordered. This usually terminates the conversation with a scammer.

The personal care I have received form Filomeno has sustained me in my home but we both look forward to when I can take sweets to church.

“I know not what the future holds of marvel or surprise; I only know I cannot drift beyond the love and care of TSP.”

This message was made possible by the secretarial and social support of Carol Gallagher.

Working Online During Covid-19

It has been a challenge. I coach women to claim their power in their relationships so that they can communicate their needs clearly and confidently, avoid conflict and have the love they deserve.

I had expected to speak on stages or in one-on-one meetings to talk about the problem of control and loss of power in relationships, how devastating that can be to a woman, and the long-term damage it causes. I was in the process of sending out material to book speaking engagements when Covid-19 upended it all.

The subsequent lockdown meant that I have had to pivot to interacting exclusively online, which meant quickly beefing up my online visibility. Visibility is what gets you in peoples’ faces, getting your message across and being relatable and vulnerable, so that people are comfortable enough to want to work with you.

That means spending a lot of time on social media. I chose Facebook, because it is most commonly used by more people, than Instagram, which is another new thing to learn, or LinkedIn, which focuses mainly on business. I have to be honest and say that I was not previously a fan of Facebook and I am not enamoured with it now, but it is the best way for me to get my message across.

I started a private Facebook page so that woman could have a safe place to discuss their concerns about challenges in their relationships and in order to make the group work and attract people to it, I have had to nurture it daily. I decided to set up a routine: Monday, I ask a question; Tuesday I post a short video on a related topic (I have included one at the bottom of the article); Wednesday, I interview someone or post a You Tube video on the topic; Thursday another video; Friday, a profile of a powerful woman; Saturday, something inspirational. That is a lot of work, particularly the videos. I think of a topic, write the narrative, record two at a time – I have to put makeup on (LOL) – and then I have them ready for Tuesday and Thursday. The profiles take a lot of research, but I believe it is important to showcase women like, Rosa Parks, Katharine Graham, Grace Hopper and Viola Desmond, who triumphed against all odds.

One of the challenges is stepping out of my comfort zone which I have no choice but to do. Learning new technology, like Zoom to hold a conference and present a webinar; Streamyard to be able to make Live Facebook presentations; Stripe to collect money; and those are just three. It seems as if I have to learn new technology every week. It is exhausting. I expect there will come a time when I am able to hire someone to do the technical stuff but for now, it is all up to me. The isolation is also a challenge and after a while, it is easy for the brain to check out during yet another Zoom call with people whose faces you know only from being on Zoom.

However, I am grateful that I live in Canada, I am healthy, and I am surrounded by people who are also healthy. I also see this as a time for all of us to reset and learn new ways of being and doing things. It will be up to the collective will of all of us to wake up and to create a new world. Ecclesiastes chapter 3 tells us, There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens,” and verse 3 tell us that there is a time to tear down and a time to build.” This is the time for us to build a new world where everyone is respected and treated with dignity and respect, no matter who they are.

Find and Follow Your North StarI am a certified Conscious Uncoupling Relationship Coach and you may connect with me on or select a time in my calendar, for a free ½-hour coaching session and to discuss further. You may also join my private Facebook group –

Posted by Carol-Ann Marshall on Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Bronze Foundation Academy (Bell Choir – Ann Rowland)

Bronze Foundation Academy

Spring  2020 Virtual Choir Project

Bronze Foundation Academy (BFA) is a community based, twelve member handbell choir with membership across the GTA:  Mississauga, Toronto,  Pickering,  Markham,  Nobleton.  It is a gently auditioned handbell choir with most members providing music leadership within their home churches.  J.C. Coolen leads this lively group of bell ringers.  You may remember him if you attended one of the  Hands on the Handbells Workshops sponsored by TSP last year. 

This virtual choir project sprang into production last March when COVID19 struck.  Suddenly the practices went online without the playing of bells.  Concerts were cancelled.  Strategies for the possible development of strengths, and technical knowledge within the group were discussed.  Logistics regarding the location and accessibility of handbells and handchimes were sought. 

Once each member received their musical allocation, each was tasked with recording the assigned allocation(s), in their own home, with their own equipment.  This was definitely a stretch for most of us.  My living room became a recording studio and stayed that way until all the takes were accepted.  Then it was time for the technicians to make it all fit together.  This process was hugely time consuming and extremely involved.  The final product of this collaboration is this YOUTUBE Video – Bronze Foundation Academy; Spring 2020 Virtual Choir Project Michael Mazzatenta, Larghetto in D Minor.  I hope you enjoy the viewing.  Ann Rowland

Life and Work of Sandi Hill

Hi Everyone,

I miss you all terribly and have been trying to stay busy so as not to go completely insane while I live on my own.  Without a job or a cottage to visit or a backyard to sit in, I have been walking into High Park every morning, only a 10-minute walk from me.  Thank you God for that park!  It is beautiful and fresh and full of people like me who are receiving all the gifts nature can provide.  I have completed many sketches there.

Back in my apartment, I have been doing some virtual singing with the Church of the Redeemer choir.  Maybe our church choir could go virtual.   

In addition, I have read many breathtakingly marvelous books lately:

  1. ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama;
  2. ‘The Splendid and the Vile’ by Eric Larson, about Winston Churchill’s first year in power during the Blitz of London, England;
  3. ‘The Mirror and the Light’ by Hillary Mantel;
  4. ‘My Dark Vanessa’ by Kate Elizabeth Russell; and
  5. ‘Trumpocalypse’ by David Frum

Next on my list are:

  1. ‘The Skin We’re In’ by Desmond Cole; and
  2. ‘The Vanishing Half’ by Brit Bennett.

Finally, I have been teaching myself to paint thanks to two incredible international artists who offer online courses:

  1. ‘Will Kemp Art School.’  He lives in England and teaches acrylics.
  2. ‘My Painting Club’ by Richard Robertson.  He lives in New Zealand and teaches oils.

The painting of the orange slices on a blue plate are from Will Kemp’s painting blog.

All my love,

Sandi Hill


RE-VO’s Karaoke Classics

RE-VO’s Karaoke Classics (2020) is a gift of love to his family and friends. RKC 2020 features twenty-two songs performed live to multi-track by Mac Reeves (in his basement under CO-VID lockdown), and post-mixed/equalized to ensure balance. Throughout this video album, Mac showcases many vocal tones, often performing in the “style” of a particular singer yet still maintaining his “true” voice, a technique he calls ‘hybrid-vocals’ (eg. part Neil/part Mac). On other songs, we hear Mac doing his own unique “covers” of classic or contemporary songs (ie. “Don’t You Forget About Me,” “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart” or “Someone You Loved.”)

The songs use sophisticated Karaoke tracks developed by professional musicians from around the world, and then, in RE-VO’s home studios, these Karaoke tracks are enhanced/reinforced by RE-VO’s own performances (eg. drums, bass, guitars, keyboards and background vocals) and additional production layers. RE-VO searched the Web far and wide for the best of the best, and these talented artists are first in their class, the wind beneath Mac’s vocal wings on these basement sessions.

View the full playlist here!

The Clarks Perform Esurientes by Bach

Pat and I have assembled a little chamber music project in our living room.

I have always loved this little piece that appears in Bach’s Magnificat.

Originally written with recorder duet, Pat and I can play that – and it is wonderful sounding writing Bach has done. The keyboard part is also manageable so I added that.

Then we added voice and cello to what we had assembled that far. I don’t have a solo voice, but I tried!

I should add that I like the “good news” words from Luke – the starving (destitute?) will be filled with good things, the rich will be sent away empty.

Even if it makes you laugh, it will have accomplished something in these strange times.

Take care. Be well.

Tom & Pat Clark

Click here to view the performance!

Work (by TSPers beyond TSP)

In a chat with one of our TSP Communications Group, I was asked to share a brief note about one of my recent activities supporting the FCJ Refugee Center. As some of you may know, I have been helping out over the past 4 years in different capacities at this nearby immigrant center that specializes in assisting the undocumented  not only with legal process advice but also by maintaining a supportive peer community for immigrant families and youth with popular events and providing some of them with Second Harvest food distribution. [On Thursday afternoons I am delivering food hampers to 14 families in the York University/Keele/Jane area

Three weeks ago Francisco Rico (one of the co-directors of FCJ) asked me if I could fabricate ten plexiglass frames to protect the FCJ staff from direct breathing contact with their clients once they resume their in-office interviews [now carried out by phone or Zoom]. “Why not?” I replied innocently.

And with that I began the search for both the 2″ x 2″ pine needed for the frames and the increasingly rare sheets of 2′ x 4′ plexiglass. Both Home Depot and Loews were already cleaned out; nearby New Canadians turned out to be my only supplier (their last sheets!). Then with the occasional help of my 16 year old Spanish immigrant “little brother” Carlos, we cleared out my garage and started to turn out the ten protectors, each custom-built for different configurations of the staff desks. [[Unfortunately too busy to take pictures of that process]

The photos below capture the final stage of delivery to FCJ:

Bob Fugere


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