No matter what place the Dakota Collegiate Lancers finish the upcoming basketball season, they’ll be taking a big step forward. The Winnipeg high school is believed to be the first in Manitoba to include sport hijabs as part of their uniforms — gear created out of controversy.
“It’s disappointing that some of them still don’t understand that it’s part of me,” grade 11 student Nusaybah Mohamed said.
While warming up for a game last year, Nusaybah’s sister, Amina, was pulled aside by an official who questioned her hijab.
“The referee thought it was unsafe for me to play with it on,” Amina said. “The pin that was used to hold it together, they thought it was a hazard.”
The situation got Amina to start bouncing around ideas. Teaming up with her school, they’ve added hijabs to the Lancers’ uniform.
They’re made of a lightweight, breathable material and include Dakota Collegiate’s logo. The hijabs are designed to stay in place unlike traditional coverings which often shifted during play.
“It helps you move easier without being uncomfortable,” Amina said. “You don’t have to think about it when you’re playing the sport.”
Since unveiling the sport hijabs, Dakota Collegiate has received several calls from other schools asking how they can include them in their game-day gear.
“It’s important that everyone needs to feel like they are part of our community and society,” Dakota Collegiate principal Jill Mathez said.
“Just to know that everyone has no trouble with something we choose to wear is super relieving,” Nusaybah said. “It’s a weight lifted off our shoulders.”