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Humber College is this year's recipient of the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Innovation Award for its groundbreaking #HereToPlay campaign.

Ray Chateau, Director of Athletics and Recreation at Humber, accepted the award yesterday evening at the CCAA Hall of Fame Banquet in Abbotsford, BC.

The Innovation Award recognizes a CCAA member institution that has developed an initiative that demonstrates unique marketing, communication or technological advances in its athletic program.

"Humber took steps to tangibly demonstrate that every individual matters," said David Munro, CCAA VP Sport Development. "Their collaboration with the LGBTQ+ Resource Centre was a terrific move forward to make Athletics a safe place."

The Humber Hawks believe in and is committed to diversity, inclusion and gender equity among its student-athletes, coaches and administrators, which made this relationship a perfect match. With help from the LGBTQ+ Resource Centre, Humber Athletics sought to establish and maintain an inclusive culture that fosters equitable participation for all.

Michael Kopinak, Associate Athletic Director for Humber Athletics, in collaboration with Natalie Elisha, Student Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Coordinator, were influential in the creation of this partnership.

"This is great recognition for athletics and the college," said Michael Kopinak.  "The partnership was designed to build awareness of the experiences of LGBTQ+ students in athletics and recreation spaces.  This award helps to build that awareness."

In 2014, Humber Athletics was the recipient of the CCAA Community Service Award for the creation of the 'Hawks Have Heart' program.

"We still have a long way to go, but we are heading in the right direction," added Michael Kopinak. "We need to continue to spread awareness that we are creating a foundation to make Humber athletics a safe space.  We want to build on the momentum that has been created over these past few months."

A series of videos used to highlight the importance of sport and the role it can play to promote an inclusive culture is currently in production, with two videos having been released thus far.  The first video highlighted hazing, while the second supported inclusion.  Episode three, which will focus on mental health, is currently in production and expected to be released this coming Fall.

Bystander training for all student-athletes and staff was also incorporated to shed light on sexual violence, and all fall under the #HereToPlay campaign umbrella.

"The message that athletes should be judged by their contribution to a team or sport, without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity, is easy to understand," said Ray Chateau.  "Not only does this partnership support a message of inclusion and equality but it takes real actions and steps to provide a safe and healthy environment for the entire Humber community."

With files from the CCAA

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