“The first ever Canada Games medallist was Manitoba’s Doreen Botterill at the 1967 Canada Winter Games in Quebec City,” says Canada Games Council President and CEO David Patterson. “Her daughter Jennifer went on to compete at the Canada Games and win Olympic gold in ice hockey. Since day one, the Canada Games have been committed to gender equity and providing opportunity for Canadian girls and women to thrive in sport.”
While the Canada Games have successfully created a competition that is open to women, the Council has also worked to ensure that women are in leadership positions at the Council and in local Host Societies that lead each set of Games.
“At the 2019 Canada Winter Games, the majority of our provincial/territorial Chefs de Mission are women,” says Patterson. “The Chair of the Red Deer Host Society, a majority of Canada Games Council’s Senior Leadership Team and the Chair of the Canada Games Sport Committee are also women. There is work yet to be done, but as leaders in Canadian sport, we will continue to work diligently with partners like the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport (CAAWS) in creating greater opportunity for Canadian women to lead at the Canada Games.”
The Canada Games Council has continued to develop opportunities for women to lead in Canadian sport through the Women in Coaching Canada Games Apprenticeship Program. The program creates opportunity for Next Generation female coaches to access enhanced training through the Coaching Association of Canada and to be part of the coaching staff for their province or territory at the Canada Games.
“We are proud of our policies that protect opportunities and eliminate barriers for female coaches at the Canada Games,” says Kelly-Ann Paul, Canada Games Council Senior VP of Games Services. “Because of these initiatives, over thirty-five percent of Canada Games coaches are female.”
Female athlete participation has also been a substantial point of emphasis for the Canada Games Council since its inception in 1991, where team female sports like Ringette and Women’s Hockey were included.
“The Canada Games continue to strive to ensure gender equity in its sport program,” says Paul. “Since the 2015 Canada Winter Games, approximately half of the athletes competing at the Canada Games have been female."
The 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer are less than a year away, and this continued focus towards gender equity will be a priority.
“The 2019 Canada Winter Games look forward to hosting thousands of Canada’s top young athletes in Red Deer for a magical two weeks of competition,” says Lynn Blouin, Canada Games Council Board Member. “As we’ve recently seen in PyeongChang, many of Canada’s top athletes are female. We are proud that the 2019 Canada Winter Games will serve as a stepping stone to so many of our future female Olympic champions.”
The Canada Games Council works in partnership with many stakeholders to ensure gender equality.
“The Canada Games Council is proud to help make Canada a world leader on gender equity in sport, but there is work yet to be done,” said Patterson. “We look forward to working with our government, corporate and sport partners on continuing to enhance the role of girls and women in Canadian sport because a fitter, healthier and more equal Canada will make our nation even stronger.”