The power of sport has the capability to bring people together and create a sense of belonging and inclusivity, and that’s exactly the atmosphere we strive to create at each Canada Games. At the Canada Games Council we recognize inclusion as a core value of our organization and we’re actively taking steps forward toward the goal of making the Games a more inclusive place. Although there is still progress to be made, we continue to create policies and plans in an effort to ensure the Games are a welcoming environment for all of our athletes and stakeholders regardless of their sexual orientation. Here’s how we’re taking action:
We recognize that education is a crucial step on the road to inclusion, and we’re committed to educating all of our Canada Games stakeholders including our Board, staff, Host Societies, and Provincial and Territorial teams.
In a 2011 survey report from Egale Canada, 29% of Canadian high school students identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, trans, two-spirit or questioning. Since 2017, the CGC has taken several concrete steps to educate, promote and provide programming for internal and external stakeholders who identify as members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Education has taken the form of webinars, documents and in-person workshops. Specifically, the CGC staff have taken the Respect in the Workplace training offered through the Respect Group and the Leading the Way – 2SLGBTQ+ Inclusion in Sport workshop offered by the Canadian Women & Sport. Plans are also in motion to include education on 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion for Host Societies and provincial/territorial teams.
The CGC recognizes that sex and gender are not the same thing, and that individuals are born with different combinations of sex and gender as part of their identity. In advance of the 2019 Canada Games, we created the Gender Inclusion Policy thaty aims to set the conditions by which the CGC and our Host Societies will create a safe and welcoming environment for transgender or intersex participants at the Canada Games. This policy allows for individuals to participate in Canada Games sports, disciplines and events in the gender they identify with. More information around the policy and the impact on Canada Games athletes can be found in this CBC article.
We are thankful to our alumni such as David Thibodeau, who competed in Swimming for Team New Brunswick in the 2013 Canada Games, for guiding us in the right direction. David is a You Can Play Ambassador who has been a wealth of knowledge for our staff and organization on inclusion. We’re grateful for his input and advice, and you can read more about his Games experience and his perspective on the importance of inclusivity later this month.
We work closely with our Host Society partners around inclusion planning and the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, AB were a great example of that work in action. The 2019 Canada Games Host Society planned and implemented LGBTQI2S programming at the Games where they partnered with the Central Alberta Pride Society to offer two Pride Days at the Games with the goal of educating and entertaining the public and Canada Games participants. The Pride days were a success, and we plan on working with future Host Society partners on their own Pride Days at upcoming Games so that we can continue to further educate and promote inclusivity within the sporting community.
As important as it is to create policies and programming around inclusion, we need to actively promote that inclusivity within the Games environment so that all athletes and stakeholders, regardless of their sexual orientation, feel welcomed. One of the ways the 2019 Canada Games Host Society accomplished this was through the use of Canada Games inclusion posters that were inspired by the Canadian Olympic Committee’s signage at Canada House during the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. These posters were designed and distributed across the 2019 Canada Games Athlete Village and competition venues.
We’re excited to continue working with our partners and alumni and create a Canada Games environment where everyone feels welcomed and accepted!