Laurentian Alumni Jean-Marc Edmé, Director of Personnel for the Ottawa Redblacks graduated Cum Laude, Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree in Sports Administration (SPAD) 2008. Reminiscing on his days at Laurentian University, he has fond yet distant memories of Laurentian University African Caribbean Students Association’s (LUACSA) multicultural galas, pot lucks, and fashion shows. LUACSA provided a sense of community. “All of the Black students, we all knew each other,” recalled Edme.
During his four years at Laurentian, he noticed that there weren’t too many people who looked like him. “I was the only Black man in Sports Admin during my time,” said Edmé in a recent interview in which he gave us a look into his experience, “A lot of the time I was the last one to be picked for group work.”
Moments like these are not uncommon for Edmé, he noted, “I’m the only Black Director of Personnel working in the CFL,” a position he worked very hard to get and maintain over the past 14 years with the league.
Edmé believes Black History Month should be celebrated year-round. “We have to keep talking about it, stay relevant!” He believes discrimination is far deeper and more insidious than many people realize. “People think racism is saying the N-word, but really it’s the small stuff,” he says, citing a time where he was mistaken as a manual labourer while he was cleaning his front yard. Other examples include flight attendants double checking his business class ticket; or being told in Mississippi that interacial dating is taboo.
In an effort to encourage more inclusive hiring practices in the CFL, he has joined the league's diversity and inclusivity committee. “There’s still a lot of progress to be made,” said Edmé. “I want to make sure there’s a place for everyone regardless of your background, colour, gender. We should all have the right to succeed.”
Edmé stressed the importance of reminding BIPOC youth that there are careers outside of athletics and entertainment, “You have to follow your heart, follow your passions; you can be a nurse, an engineer, a communications specialist.” He is working on setting up mentorship programs where minority high school students would be connected with coaches, scouts, and managers; in short, role models. “Be proactive with youth!”
His advice to youth is to keep moving forward, even when there are bumps in the road, “You have to persevere!”