Toronto Argos DL Fabion Foote: ‘I was called a monkey by one of my McMaster coaches’

Photo courtesy: McMaster Athletics

Canadian defensive lineman Fabion Foote was the first to speak out about his systemic racism experience while playing Canadian university football.

The McMaster University graduate posted a series of tweets responding to a video produced by the Marauders athletic department regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Everyone is all of a sudden supporting black lives and to me it seems more like a trend and a PR stunt versus them actually caring. Which is why when I saw McMaster posting that video I had to tweet what I tweeted,” Foote said.

Foote played four seasons for McMaster prior to being selected in the second round of the 2017 CFL draft. His teammate and close friend, running back Wayne Moore was chosen in the second round of the 2016 CFL draft. The pair spent three years together with the Marauders and Moore wanted to share what he went through.

“There would be times I just couldn’t wait to get back to my room, I’d breakdown. These are things that we spoke about while even being in school. And when I read [Foote’s tweets], I felt it. It’s trauma, you don’t know you’re going through trauma until after,” Moore said.

Meanwhile, Foote was at McMaster from 2013 to 2016. He played 25 regular season games for the Marauders, recording 43 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. The North York native was a key contributor to the 2014 Yates Cup-winning team. He states racial jokes were made at his expense.

“I was called a monkey by one of my coaches. He said King Kong, gorilla, monkey — one of the three and everybody thought it was so funny, but it really wasn’t funny because it was a real life experience that I faced,” Foote said.

After Foote called former McMaster athletic director Glen Grunwald out on twitter for brushing the issues brought to his attention aside, the current president of Canada Basketball replied to Foote with a statement. Grunwald acknowledges he could have done more to deal with the racism issues raised.

“It should have triggered a broader and more comprehensive reaction to begin to deal with systemic racism,” Grunwald wrote.

Grunwald thanked Foote for his leadership bringing the happenings forward at the time and speaking up now. The 26-year-old Foote wants real change on campus within the entire athletic department at McMaster and he’s being heard.

McMaster’s associate vice-president and dean of students, Sean Van Koughnett released a statement which said in part: “We take all allegations of racism and discrimination seriously and we encourage anyone, especially students, to let us know their concerns and experience so appropriate action can be taken. We have determined that the most effective approach to addressing these concerns is to conduct a review of the Black student-athlete experience at McMaster.”

Foote, who signed a free agent contract with the Toronto Argonauts during CFL free agency in February, has already been in contact with McMaster’s Equity and Inclusion office. That’s just the start of a complete systemic overhaul Foote plans to work on and achieve.

“I’m going to bring it to McMaster and they’re going to have a full investigation from everything I have to say,” Foote said.

“It’s forcing these people in power to finally address these issues that were being ignored for so, so long.”