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Taijon Graham's 'Shoot for Change' idea enters third year

'Shoot for Change’ which has been really successful over the past two years as we have raised $27,000 and in September, we launched the Warren Lindsay bursary'

Pursuit is a sports feature series highlighting athletes, coaches, and staff and significant sporting events from North Bay and the surrounding area.                   


In what will be his last ‘Shoot for Change’ game on Saturday, Taijon Graham reflected on leaving a legacy at Nipissing University.  

“It's something that I can look back on and tell people in the future, ‘this is what I did here. This kid from a big city went to a small city in the north and was able to do all these amazing things and continue to show people that there is never a time where you can’t make a difference,” says Graham.  

The Scarborough, Ontario born Graham is a Business Major and a Senior on the Nipissing Lakers Men’s basketball team created the concept of ‘Shoot for Change in 2021.  

“It came out of me wanting to do something in the wake of what happened to George Floyd in 2020 and with all the social tension that arose surrounding his death. In my second year I saw that there wasn’t any financial opportunities or bursary’s specifically for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour. I wanted to find a way I could create an initiative to start fundraising for that,” says Graham.  

That led him to combining a few ideas from the NBA’s push toward social justice, as well as the U-Sports fundraiser to raise awareness for breast cancer.  

“I knew that there was a way to combine these ideas and that evolved into ‘Shoot for Change’ which has been really successful over the past two years as we have raised $27,000 and in September, we launched the Warren Lindsay bursary,” he says.  

Warren Lindsay is the Director of Services at NUSU and Graham says, “He was a big part of helping create NUBASE (Nipissng University Black Association for Student Expression) and we thought it was perfect to name after him.”  

And the bursary is a $1,000 bursary awarded to a Nipissing University student in any degree program who identifies as BIPOC and was first awarded in 2022. 

Graham also co-created NUBASE, which is a safe space for students of colour to have an outlet to go to in a northern Ontario city. Graham says it wasn’t his goal when he came to Nipissing to create a space like this and become an advocate for these issues.  

“In North Bay there is not a huge amount of diversity, and so there's that struggle in terms of finding your identity and figuring out how do I relate to everybody. So to have this platform for people who look like myself to be able to have a place to go when we have an issue, or where they can really be themselves, it's something that I don't take for granted. These were not things that were on my mind, but I think with the opportunity presented itself and having people around me who were able to see some potential in me, I think it was great to be able to start something with them,” he says.  

“I think that's what makes it so amazing that there was a group of us that wanted to vent and to create something different. Over the last three years, we were just a group of people that really wanted to do something, and I don't think you see that every day and I'm grateful for all these opportunities that have come from something that we were all passionate about, and something that brought us together.”  

Through all of these interests outside the classroom, Graham says he has found a new path in what he wants to do with his professional life. He entered Nipissing University as a Psychology Major but is now pursuing a Business Degree.  

“I’ve just found through all of this, I’ve become more passionate about business and one of the things I’m going to do is apply to get into a Masters program as well as apply for the Wayne and Theresa Embry Fellowship program. Hopefully, through that, I can work my way up to becoming an executive with a focus on bringing big ideas to impact positive change. The fellowship is something (Nipissing Lakers Women’s Head Coach) Rachel Van Woezik was a finalist for and she has been a big supporter of ‘Shoot for Change’ and is always open to answering my questions, she’s been super supportive,” says Graham.  

And on the court, Graham is being looked at as one of the main elder statesmen on a team in a rebuilding year. Graham is setting career highs in his average minutes per game, points, assists and rebounds. He says he has molded his game to being the guy that doesn’t need to do the flashy stuff but excels at doing the hard job to make everyone else successful. But even that hasn’t been a linear path for Graham.  

“In my second year I played 18 of the 22 games that season and averaged 9 minutes a game, but unfortunately in my third year, I fell out of the rotation early in the season. Last year was really my comeback season and I was dedicated to fighting my way back into the rotation, which I feel like I did,” he says.   

“A lot of guys decided to move on from last season and so the big turnover meant that I was going to have an opportunity to take that step and make sure that I can leave this chapter of my life on a high. I stayed here over the summer for the first time since coming to Nipissing and just trained all offseason. I’m embracing my role to do the things that people are not always willing to do and don’t always get the credit, but it’s what you have to do in order to win games. I hone in on the three or four things I’m really good at and the things the coaches ask me to do. We’d love to get more wins for sure, but I’m loving my role and I’m appreciative of that role increasing this year.”  

Graham is also appreciative of the support from the Lakers and the North Bay community at large has given to ‘Shoot for Change.’  

“It was just really an idea, and I didn't think it would have eventually grown into what it has. It’s been an amazing feeling to see how much work has gone in and see the support from the North Bay community and I'm really happy and I'm excited to see where this continues to go moving forward.” 

Tip off for the women’s game this saturday is at 6 p.m. with the men’s game following at 8 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for seniors, alumni, and students, and free for children under 12 and students who present their student ID. Tickets may be purchased at the door or online in advance. There will be a raffle draw with prizes including tickets to an upcoming Toronto Raptors game where they will play the Houston Rockets, a team that includes Fred Van Fleet, who was a member of the Toronto Raptors 2019 NBA championship team. 

For tickets or to donate, visit

If you have a story idea for the “Pursuit” series, send Matt an email at [email protected]  

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Matt Sookram

About the Author: Matt Sookram

Matthew Sookram is a Canadore College graduate. He has lived and worked in North Bay since 2009 covering different beats; everything from City Council to North Bay Battalion.
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