Former Alouette Jean-Samuel Blanc, Guelph HC Mark Surya headline CFL’s third Diversity in Football cohort

Graphic courtesy: CFL

The CFL has unveiled nine new participants in the league’s Diversity in Football Program, including former Montreal Alouette Jean-Samuel Blanc and University of Guelph head coach Mark Surya.

The program, which is now entering its third season, allows one participant from a diverse cultural background to intern with each team’s football operations department for approximately four weeks, including training camp from May 12 to June 1.

“The growth of our game requires different perspectives to introduce new possibilities and to connect with more people,” Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement. “We’re continuing to lay these foundations for change with our tremendous partners at Securian Canada, and while there’s always more to do, I know we’re building something positive and worthwhile.

“We’re grateful to our participants for their efforts and expertise. At the conclusion of this year’s program, I know they’ll return to their home communities with all they’ve seen and learned, and they’ll continue to grow our great game across the country.”

Blanc will rejoin the Alouettes as an intern after playing six seasons with the team as a defensive end and fullback, logging 63 special teams tackles, nine defensive tackles, and two sacks. He currently serves as the special teams coordinator for the Vanier Cup champion Montreal Carabins.

Surya was named the Gryphons’ 18th head coach this offseason after spending four seasons as the offensive coordinator. He previously called plays at Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Toronto. He will join the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for training camp, who are run by a pair of prominent Guelph alumni in general manager Kyle Walters and head coach Mike O’Shea.

Last year, Nathan Taylor was hired as the Ottawa Redblacks’ running backs coach after impressing as an intern. The full list of participants in this year’s program can be read below.

​(Team: Name | Area of focus | Hometown)

  • Montreal: Jean-Samuel Blanc | Coaching | Montreal
  • Ottawa: Isaiah Johns | Coaching | Windsor, Ont.
  • Toronto: Samuel Okanlawon | Video | Vancouver
  • Hamilton: Savannah Allen | Football Operations | Mississauga, Ont.
  • Winnipeg: Mark Surya | Coaching | Burlington, Ont.
  • Saskatchewan: Ventson Donelson | Coaching | Regina
  • Calgary: Christopher Anstey | Coaching | Calgary
  • Edmonton: Ingi El Shahid | Football Operations | Montreal
  • BC: Susan Lam | Athletic Therapy | Calgary