According to statistics, approximately 40,000 people a month arrived in Canada throughout 2021 and 2022 from all over the world. Some of them were students, others were immigrants or temporary foreign workers, and an increasing number were refugees from countries such as Ukraine, Afghanistan and Syria. With this complex new social reality comes both opportunity and challenge, which is why Sport for Life has chosen to revitalize its resource Sport for Life for Every New to Canada Participant.

“In this country, there are varying levels of immigrant status. What we realized is that terms like newcomer and refugee and New Canadians are being used in similar contexts, so we decided that we needed to standardize our language,” said Kabir Hosein, Director of Operations and Strategic Initiatives for Sport for Life.

“This new term, New to Canada Participant, is intended to be all-encompassing of new citizens, permanent residents, immigrants, refugees or people with protective status. With this resource as well as our eLearning on the topic, the new definition is provided.”

The long-term vision is for Sport for Life to offer a suite of learning opportunities, where the introductory resource transitions into further education material on physical literacy and Long-Term Development in Sport and Physical Activity. This will provide a foundation for working with equity-deserving groups, aligned with the language and resources being used by other organizations such as Canadian Women & Sport. Ultimately Sport for Life will offer a workshop that facilitates making an action plan to engage and serve New to Canada Participants.

“In staying connected to the current and future trends, we see that Canada is doing a good job of attracting immigrants. There are actual data sets from Immigration Canada and the Prime Minister is supporting it, that by the end of 2024 we need about 1.5 million immigrants to keep Canada going. That number is separate from the refugee crisis,” said Hosein.

“We already have so many resources for Canadians, so we had to ask ourselves: what are we doing for those who are new?”

Work has already begun with Canada Soccer and Sport for Life partnering to create a learning opportunity to help New to Canada Participants learn about and navigate the soccer system, which currently has a confusing framework that has accessibility challenges for those unfamiliar with it. Hopefully this will be only the first sport to be featured. 

“If we want to support then empower the sport talent coming to our country, and give all New to Canada Participants the opportunities to stay active and healthy that they deserve, it’s going to require a multi-faceted and intersectional approach. These latest advances are only the first few steps in what will be an ambitious approach that will continue to evolve as we learn the best ways to embrace and encourage those who are new so they can flourish in Canada.”

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