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Mar 9, 2023

Balarama Holness (MEd’16) is a former CFL athlete turned social entrepreneur, community organizer and anti-racism activist. A native of Montreal, he played professional football for the Montreal Alouettes, with whom he won the Grey Cup in 2010. He’s also well educated, having earned a Master’s in Education from the University of New Brunswick and a Bachelor of Civil Law and Juris Doctor from McGill University. In 2018, Balarama gained political notoriety by gaining support to force Montreal's municipal government to launch a public inquiry into systemic racism and discrimination in the city. In 2021, Balarama announced his run for Mayor of Montreal under a new, community-led political party, Movement Montreal. Now, he’s published a book that recounts his journey from an ashram in West Virginia to becoming a leader in Montreal committed to reshaping society as we know it.

In this episode: 

  • His unusual upbringing and how he felt marginalized upon returning to Montreal. 

  • How he got into football and how sports got him back on track.  

  • Why his advanced education was his way to empower himself and his needs in society. 

  • The step into politics and activism, and ideas for how citizens can press for true democracy and open access 

  • The tensions between Quebec and “Rest of Canada” (and Montreal) over discriminatory laws.  

  • How he and others are pressing forward to eradicate racism in Montreal and beyond.  

Thanks to: 

Ouralumni host, Katie Davey 

Music by alumni artist,Beats of Burden 

Our alumniAffinity Partners, TD Insurance and Manulife 

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