By Sam Laskaris

Though it originated in the United States, Black History Month is now also an annual celebration in Canada. The annual observance celebrates and recognizes the numerous achievements of Black people. Throughout February, various former and current members of the Brooklin Lacrosse Club organization who are Black will be profiled.

Today’s story is on JORDI JONES-SMITH.

Jones-Smith is certainly one busy individual. For starters he’s keeping himself in shape while he waits to resume his playing career, not only with the Brooklin Lacrosse Club of Major Series Lacrosse but also with the National Lacrosse League’s Saskatchewan Rush.

Jones-Smith, who graduated from Western University with a Bachelor of Arts degree (he majored in criminology), has also gone back to school. He’s one of 170 students that were accepted into Ryerson University’s new Law program. Plus, he recently launched a new business, Better Than Before Lacrosse, with his Brooklin and Rush teammate Austin Murphy. The company offers school, team and individual programs.

Jones-Smith speaks highly of Black History Month. “To me it means that people get a chance to learn and they see what type of hardships people before us had,” he said. Jones-Smith is certainly doing his part to advance Black issues. He’s joined the Black Law Society at Ryerson. “It’s a group of students bringing awareness to racialized issues,” he said.

The Black Law Society, which currently includes 14 Ryerson students, is part of the Black Law Students’ Association of Canada. Jones-Smith also joined an NLL panel focusing on inclusion and diversity in the sport. Unlike some other Black athletes, Jones-Smith said he has not encountered overt racism during his lacrosse career. “It would mostly be somebody saying you’re playing the wrong sport,” he said. “As I got older it died down. I feel people understood more.”

Jones-Smith added there have also been moments when he has been praised for playing lacrosse. “I’ve had situations when it was the complete opposite (to racism),” he said. Jones-Smith has had his share of highlights during his lacrosse career.

While growing up he won numerous provincial youth championships with teams coached by former Brooklin star player and coach Derek Keenan. Jones-Smith was also a member of the 2013 Minto Cup champion Whitby Warriors, who were coached by Keenan. While toiling for the Western Mustangs, Jones-Smith also helped his team win the Baggataway Cup, the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association title, in 2016. And Jones-Smith was also a member of the Whitby Steelhawks, who captured the Arena Lacrosse League championship in 2018.

Jones-Smith is hopeful that more Black youth will get into lacrosse. He believes the media can play a vital role in this regard by featuring more Black lacrosse players with stories and clips on broadcasts. “It would get more (Black) players into the game,” he said. Jones-Smith also believes more Black youth could take up lacrosse if it was more affordable, adding he knows there are various programs now that help subsidize expenses for youth football players.

“I know lacrosse can do something like that to get more kids into the game,” he said.