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Saturday basketball games in North Bay to raise racism awareness, raise money for BIPOC bursary

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Nipissing Lakers’ annual anti-racism basketball games are back this weekend when the men’s and women’s teams take to the court against the Laurentian Voyageurs.

The ‘With1VoiceNight: Shoot for Change’ games help raise funds for a university bursary for deserving Black, Indigenous, and other students of colour while also raising awareness about the racism marginalized minorities face.

Taijon Graham always hoped his basketball initiative would be a hit. Graham is president of the Nipissing University Black Association For Student Expression (NUBASE) and is a Lakers’ player.

“It's always been my vision to see this game grow," he said.

Started last winter, Graham came up ‘With1VoiceNight: Shoot for Change’ to raise awareness of racism and discrimination minorities -- in particular Black students -- face while also raising funds to start a bursary for students who are Black, Ingenious or people of colour.

"I really hope that this game will continue to bring forward these issues and keep this conversation going,” Graham said.

He said he is appreciative of his teammates' support and the support from the women's team. The event has spread throughout the league. Brock, Guelph, Laurentian, McMaster, Ontario Tech and Windsor universities now all participate.

“For other schools to pick it up, it's really exciting,” Graham said.

“We just had a game against Guelph a couple days ago and it's really exciting … It shows that we're all hoping to get involved and make a difference."

Throughout the games, there will be a raffle for Toronto Raptors tickets and Toronto Raptors signed jerseys, with the proceeds going to the bursary.

"The university itself has raised $300,000 for BIPOC scholarships,” said Nipissing University president and vice-chancellor Kevin Wamsley.

“The whole network has been working together to increase opportunities."

Last year's games raised more than $18,000.

"We are very proud of our student-athletes who do well on the court, they do well in the classroom and they do well in social justice activities and that is exactly the right formula that we’re looking for,” said Wamsley.

Graham is hoping in the coming years, the money raised will be used to create more bursaries.

The games are set for Saturday evening. The women’s team plays at 6 p.m. and the men’s tip-off at 8 p.m.

Nipissing University students and children under age 12 get in free. Adult tickets are $10.

More information on the game and how to purchase tickets can be found here.

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