As the world responded to the murder of 46-year-old George Floyd in the U.S. this past summer, the ongoing struggles of racism in today's world hit home for many.
That included UNBC Timberwolves' basketball star and homegrown Prince Georgian Tyrell Laing, who shared an emotional story when it comes to social injustice through a video produced by the school and shared across its networks.
This week, it was recognized by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), a Pacific Northwest region organization, who have awarded the UNBC Athletics Department and Laing's story with the District VIII Grand Gold award for best video 'on a shoestring,' meaning on a low budget.
"It wasn't that long ago when I went on Kijiji and I was actually looking at an ad or a post for a basement suite being rented," Laing said in the video.
"And at the end of the price, in brackets, it said 'Whites Only.' You become accustomed to certain things and it's a sad reality in today's day and age that somebody would have to get used to being treated differently.
"It makes me proud to represent a culture, it makes me proud to represent family."
Last June, in a video shared on @unbctwolves social media accounts, student-athlete Tyrell Laing shared his #BlackLivesMatter story.— University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) (@UNBC) January 29, 2021
This week it won a CASE grand gold award for video on a shoestring.
Watch the video & read about the award: https://t.co/8C351vmCj5 #ThisIsUNBC pic.twitter.com/v05XHBmAHa
The T-Wolves also posted its own statement at the start of the video:
"In the wake of the recent racial injustices, we have been searching for the right words to properly convey our thoughts and feelings.
The social and racial inequalities are nothing short of tragic and disheartening. We stand for the marginalized, the forgotten and the unseen.
But, rather than trying to find the right words, we need to listen.
In times of unspeakable tragedy, leaders emerge. Often, those leaders are our youth. Young individuals who have a message that should be heard. And we must hear them."
Laing added the world is a 'long ways away' from where it needs to be when it comes to social injustice and racism.
"It is hard to be black, not only in America, not only in Canada but almost anywhere in the world," Laing explains.
"I think, sort of, a lot of that stems from just systematic inequalities in people in government and positions of power predominantly being caucasian males who are making big decisions who can really influence that change. I believe that black people have been placed behind the eight-ball from the get-go. We are a long ways away from getting to where we need to in terms of racism but it starts from the ground up in our communities."
UNBC Interim President Dr. Geoff Payne, in acknowledging the prestigious award, says Laing's story highlights the need for change.
"This award recognizes Tyrell Laing’s courageous decision to speak out against anti-Black racism and publically share his personal experiences so we can listen, learn and each of us commit to action," UNBC Interim President Dr. Geoff Payne said in a statement.
“It is imperative that we listen to Tyrell and other anti-racism advocates at UNBC as well and take the necessary steps to ensure UNBC is a safe and inclusive campus for all."
District VIII/Pacific Northwest and Western Canada includes Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan and Yukon.
“Major kudos to Tyrell Laing for his strength and commitment to such an important movement," judges for the awards said.
"This was an incredibly brave decision to share his story and to be the focus of such a story/message.
“Excellent message and great presentation. These are the kinds of stories organizations need to lift up.”
INCREDIBLY proud of Tyrell for sharing his story and empowering others in the @UNBC community. The CASE award includes all universities in BC, AB, Sask, MB, Wash., Oregon, Idaho, and Utah. A young leader in @CityofPG. Grateful he wears green & gold. https://t.co/g1It0QTcYh— UNBC Athletics (@UNBCATHLETICS) January 29, 2021