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This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

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Ontario Tech practicum student helping to spread love for sport through placement with Their Opportunity charity

Uwais Mirza helping Their Opportunity revamp parasport programming

Ontario Tech Communications and Digital Media Studies student Uwais Mirza (second from left in back row) worked with national children's charity Their Opportunity during his practicum course. A highlight for Mirza was the Indigenous Hockey Equipment Drive.
Ontario Tech Communications and Digital Media Studies student Uwais Mirza (second from left in back row) worked with national children's charity Their Opportunity during his practicum course. A highlight for Mirza was the Indigenous Hockey Equipment Drive.

Ontario Tech University student Uwais Mirza has been moved by his experiences while working with national children’s charity Their Opportunity and seeing the organization fulfil its mission of making sports more accessible for kids.

Mirza, a fourth-year student in the Communications and Digital Media Studies (CDMS) program in the university’s Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, first connected with Their Opportunity through his practicum course work.

Sharing a passion for sports, Mirza was especially encouraged by the chance to work with Their Opportunity because of their partnerships with organizations such as the Jays Care charity, Toronto Raptors, and the Ottawa Senators.

“That’s what piqued my interest because I am a big Toronto sports fan,” says Mirza. “To work with some of these people would be a dream for me.”

Mirza, a person who lives with a disability, was able to help Their Opportunity revitalize some of Its parasport programming and make connections with Durham Region parasport organizations, a cause very close to him.

Seeing Their Opportunity partner with Jays Care was a full circle moment for him. As a kid, he participated in Jays Care’s Challenger Baseball programming, which lets kids with physical or cognitive disabilities play baseball.

“It’s awesome, I personally benefited from it, and now the sport will continue to grow even more and become more and more accessible,” he says. “Seeing more of those things come up is really special.”

Another highlight of Mirza’s practicum work with Their Opportunity was seeing and supporting their Indigenous Hockey Equipment Drive.

In January, Their Opportunity was named as the charitable partner for the Ottawa Senators’ Indigenous Culture Celebration. During the January 29 celebration, which raised $38,250 for the Senators Community Foundation, Their Opportunity’s work was also highlighted.

In November 2023, Their Opportunity, the Senators Community Foundation, and Canadian Tire came together and collected about 1,700 pieces of hockey equipment, which Their Opportunity then distributed to over 20 Indigenous communities throughout Ontario.

On Family Day in February, Mirza experienced one of the Indigenous Hockey Equipment Drives in-person at the DelPark Homes Centre in Oshawa. More than 25 bags of hockey equipment and dozens of hockey sticks were collected and then shipped to three Indigenous communities in Winnipeg.

“We were genuinely surprised with how many things we were able to get, we got so many hockey sticks,” Mirza said.

Mirza’s regular course work in his CDMS program involves a lot of research, contrasting with his practicum work experience organizing events and programming.

“It has been surreal,” Mirza says. “I couldn't play sports because of my disability, so seeing other people get to play sports is really powerful for me.”

Seeing Their Opportunity enable more kids to play sports has been a moving experience.

“Kids should be able to experience sport without any barriers at all – and that’s what Their Opportunity does – they try to remove as many barriers as possible while also trying to give back to the community."

Practicum work has been a real highlight of Mirza’s post-secondary education.

“Here, they actually care about you,” Mirza said about the Practicum and Internship team at Ontario Tech. “I would recommend this practicum experience to any other student.”

Did you know?
  • All Ontario Tech faculties offer co-ops or internships as part of degree programs. Students gain skills, competencies and networking from these experiences, while employers establish connections with future talent who are ready to hit the ground running upon hiring.
  • Ontario Tech University has a longstanding belief in the value of student-focused educational options that deliver practical, hands-on experiences as a major component of every university program.