Ornella Nzindukiyimana

Headshot of a woman

Ornella Nzindukiyimana

Associate Professor
Campus Location
42 West St Rm 16
(902) 867-3627

Born in Kigali, Rwanda, Dr. Nzindukiyimana (pronounced nzee-ndoo-key-yee-mah-nah) arrived in Ottawa, Canada at twelve years old. An avid soccer fan, she went on to pursue a Human Kinetics degree at the University of Ottawa (2011). In the last senior BSc year, she developed an interest in research after completing an honours project on Ottawa’s public baths in the early 20th century. The rest was history—sport history. She went on to complete an MA at Ottawa in 2013 (on Black Canadian history of swimming) and then a PhD at Western University in London, ON in 2018 (on Black women’s sport history in Ontario). Her work has appeared in forums such as Sport History Review, Loisir et Société /Society & Leisure, the Journal of Canadian Studies, and The International Journal of the History of Sport, and she has presented at multiple national and international conferences. She currently teaches sport history and sociology courses.


Studying sport history is a way to understand how people’s idea of sport has evolved, how societies have integrated sport into their lives, and how sport impacted people's lives. Exploring sport in the past goes beyond records, championships, plays, scores, or rules to reveal a complex space that has meant different things to people of different classes, genders, races, abilities, and more. Dr. Nzindukiyimana’s research focuses on Black Canadians’ sport histories in the 20th century, on people and communities who found joy and community at various levels, and who confronted racist ideologies both on and off the field. Her work demonstrates that while sport has brought people together, participants have also used it to entrench socio-cultural and economic hierarchies. Understanding those dynamics can help us comprehend how sport can effectively play a role in societies that continue to grapple with living with difference.

  • Aladejebi, F., Allain, K. A., George, R. C. & Nzindukiyimana, O. (2022). We the North? Race, Nation, and the Multicultural Politics of Toronto’s First NBA Championship. Journal of Canadian Studies, 56(1), 1-34. https://doi.org/10.3138/jcs.2020-0055

  • Nzindukiyimana, O. (2022). A Tale of Two Olympians: At the Intersection of Class, Blackness, and Amateurism in Canada, 1920s–1930s. Journal of Olympic Studies, 3(1), 113-131.

  • Nzindukiyimana, O. (2020). “‘That’s Jean Lowe’: On Being a Black Canadian Female Track Athlete in 1940s Toronto.” The International Journal of the History of Sport, 37(14), 1371-1387. https://doi.org/10.1080/09523367.2020.1828362

  • Nzindukiyimana, O., & Wamsley, K. B. (2019). ‘We Played Ball Just the Same’: Selected Recollections of Black Women’s Sport Experiences in Southern Ontario (1920s–1940s). The International Journal of the History of Sport, 36(13-14), 1289-1310. https://doi.org/10.1080/09523367.2019.1691533


To view more of Dr. Nzindukiyimana's publications, please visit her Google Scholar page.