Aliu lands book deal on how he confronted racism in hockey

Glancing at the illustration of the boy with the far-off stare standing next to a bus on the cover of the graphic novel memoir that will tell his story, Akim Aliu immediately remembers the pain of growing up poor and Black in Toronto.

From the hours spent alone riding public transit to and from arenas across the city to the strips of duct tape holding together the garage sale-purchased hockey equipment bag slung over his shoulder, the depiction of a teenaged Aliu hits home. Aliu was born in Nigeria to mixed-race parents and then lived in Ukraine before the family moved to Canada.

“It’s a simple cover, but tells a long, deep story of a lot of sorrow, a lot of sad days, a lot of tears, a lot of uncertainty and feeling different and, to be honest, feeling left out, feeling like you ‘re not part of society as it stands, ”said Aliu, now 32.“ It’s powerful, and it really hits me. And I hope people take the time to digest it, and learn a little bit more about my story. ”

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