Akim Aliu is the son of a Nigerian father and a Ukrainian mother. Born in Nigeria, he spent years of his youth in Africa and Ukraine before moving to Toronto. A hockey prodigy, Akim was drafted into the NHL as a teenager and played for the Calgary Flames. He experienced systemic racism, hazing, and abuse at every level of competitive hockey he played in — from Pee Wee hockey to the NHL — but has never stopped dreaming of a world where every kid, regardless of background, can be accepted for who he or she is (and play hockey, of course).
In May 2020, Akim wrote an article for the Players’ Tribune entitled “Hockey is Not for Everyone,” where he identifies the racism and violence he endured as a Black athlete within the sport of hockey. He has since partnered with the Time to Dream Foundation and the Hockey Diversity Alliance to help their mission to eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey, and continues to play hockey professionally in Europe.