Sport for Life stands against racism

Racism is a problem that needs to be solved in Canada.

The Sport for Life Society stands against all forms of racism and discrimination, and in our resources we encourage respect for people of all backgrounds and lifestyles. Released in 2018, Sport for Life for All Newcomers to Canada aims to create inclusion in sport and physical activity.

“Cities across Canada are being transformed by immigration, and the sport system will also be affected,” reads the resource.

It has been estimated that by 2030, immigration will account for all of Canada’s net population growth. These newcomers will come from countries all over the globe, speak a variety of languages, and practice different religions. Being able to adapt to this growing demographic shift will be necessary if sport organizations hope to survive and succeed.

Acknowledging the current lack of diversity is the first step in addressing racism. Beyond that, championing institutional change and introducing proactive recruiting should be the next step in ensuring that sport organizations and multicultural communities are embracing everyone. It’s an endeavor that will be ongoing long-term, and one to which we should be steadfastly committed.

The solutions for facing this issue are complex and multi-faceted, but begin with establishing a zero-tolerance policy for racism. Making this publicly known by sharing posters in the facility or sharing documents where diversity is encouraged, and integrating the concepts into the code of conduct for leaders, coaches, athletes, and parents, is crucial.

“Be mindful of racial slurs that may occur during sporting events and among spectators, and be prepared to act on such occurrences,” it reads.

Sport for Life has also identified some promising practices in Canada, and some resources that should help organizations to get on the right track. One is the Sport Canada Strategy on Ethical Sport, which “addresses key ethical issues in sport including harassment, racism, discrimination and violence.” Sport Canada has used this strategy to create inter-institutional relationships with the aim of creating an “ethically based sports system.”

Physical and Health Education (PHE) Canada has a resource called We Belong. It supports facilitators of programs in enhancing “the experiences of newcomer youth, including how to plan for an emotionally safe program that is free of racism.”

With all of these power players committed to putting an end to racism in all its forms, Sport for Life feels confident that sport organizations now have the tools and resources to move ahead. The key is to create a welcoming environment, and to be proactive about encouraging diversity. That way no athlete, child, or adult will ever be excluded on the basis of their skin colour or background.

You can download the Newcomers to Canada resource at our website sportforlife.ca/resources. There is more information, including a success story, at sportforlife.ca/newcomers.

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