An Olympian’s legacy doesn’t end when their competitive career comes to an end. In fact, their legacies can grow as they make incredible impact on their communities.
And that is at the heart of the OLY Canada Legacy Grant, a key alumni program of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC). In 2020, 10 projects led by Team Canada Legacy Olympians, who are now retired as athletes but still heavily involved in sport, will each receive a $5,000 grant.
As part of an application process, projects were evaluated on how they would build stronger communities through the Olympic values of Excellence, Friendship and Respect while supporting the COC’s efforts in sport inclusion, particularly with regards to increasing access or participation in sport in Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities, as well as the sustainability of the project, among other criteria.
This is the second year for the OLY Canada Legacy Grant, which awarded five recipients in 2019. The number was doubled this year to help fund more projects supporting BIPOC communities.
Here are the 10 Olympian-led projects receiving OLY Canada Legacy Grants in 2020:
Figure Skating – Vancouver 2010 / Sochi 2014 / PyeongChang 2018
Figure Skating – Sochi 2014 / PyeongChang 2018
In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, Kaitlyn Weaver and Patrick Chan joined the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group created by Skate Canada. As part of that, their initiative to organize a series of virtual panels and “bite-sized video dialogues” has three key objectives: lead a conversation within Skate Canada membership on how race shapes participation; highlight BIPOC voices and experiences in figure skating; and encourage Skate Canada members to begin an educational journey for anti-racism. The working group’s goal is to take decisive action to acknowledge and address systemic racism and to create a safe and welcoming environment for all individuals to embrace the joy of skating.
“2020 has been a revealing and challenging year for figure skating. Together, with other members of Skate Canada and professionals in the field, we are working to make figure skating in this country a safer and more inclusive space. The task is enormous and ongoing— efforts of reconciliation are crucial and education is imperative. We are committed to the process of listening, learning and creating change that will make our sport better for all who enjoy it. Greatest thanks to the COC for helping us begin the journey of making the ice a home to all,” said Weaver.
Athletics – Los Angeles 1984
The NextGEN Project designed by Clarke is a multi-sport program that gives children aged four to ten exposure to many sports, including gymnastics, track and field, tennis, basketball, baseball, skating, swimming, and soccer. It aims to break barriers often encountered by children in Black and underserved communities due to minimal access to appropriate resources and/or low income. The NextGEN Project provides detailed programming, through skill-based circuits, expanding athletic knowledge, and building a foundation of athleticism while identifying abilities for the future.
“The NextGEN Project began with a dream to build a program where kids from underserved communities could have the opportunity to discover their potential through sport sampling. We are incredibly grateful to the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Olympic Legacy Grant for providing us with a chance to grow the NextGEN Project faster than we had initially anticipated!” said Clarke.
Rowing – Seoul 1988
Heather Clarke and Andrea Schreiner Stapff may have competed in rowing, but both are heavily involved with the Strathcona Nordic Ski Club. The OLY Canada Legacy Grant is being targeted towards helping 80-100 students from two schools in Courtenay and Campbell River, British Columbia that have large First Nations populations and many socio-economically disadvantaged families participate in the Access to School Nordic Ski Lessons. Amidst a pandemic, their program offers an outdoor activity that naturally forces physical distancing because of the length of skis and poles.
Shreiner Stapff, who is the head coach at SNSC said “Watching children have so much fun while at the same time becoming more physically literate through activities such as cross country skiing is incredibly heartening to witness. It’s about access to opportunities that spark an interest, whether that results in pursuing an Olympic dream or making physical activity a part of everyday life.”
Freestyle Skiing – Sochi 2014
Maxime Dufour-Lapointe, in collaboration with the Fédération québécoise de ski acrobatique and the assistance of her sisters Chloé and Justine, has been organizing Camp 3SDL. March 2022 will mark the 10th year of the program, a ski camp that benefits 70 young female athletes aged 8 to 16 who share the same passion for skiing but do not have accessibility to the sport. The grant will allow Camp 3SDL to increase the registrations up to 100 participants, increase the number of ski instructors and provide sufficient insurance.
“The 3SDL Camp has always been very important for us! It is a great opportunity to share our passion for sport, encourage young skiers to follow their dreams all while having fun. The OLY Canada Legacy Grant will allow us to deliver our 10th edition of the 3SDL in a memorable way! A huge thank you for the support around this fantastic project!” said Dufour-Lapointe.
Water Polo – Beijing 2008
At Beijing 2008, Con Kudaba was part of Canada’s first men’s Olympic water polo team in 24 years. Today, he is a swimming coach looking to help young athletes from lower-income households overcome the costs associated with competition and travel. The grant will also aid in purchasing touchpad and timing equipment for the Chinook Swim Club, which aims to be a safe and inclusive competition space for Sechelt and the Sunshine Coast of B.C. Increasing awareness and engagement within the community, Kudaba hopes to develop an avenue of success, competitive achievements, and build a community and foundation towards giving back.
“This grant is a great gift to the community of the Sunshine Coast. Not only will these funds support the safe and inclusive environment that swimming instills, but will also have a lasting legacy towards all aspiring youth both today and in the years to come. The Sechelt and area community is eternally grateful to the COC for their generosity and recognition of smaller cities needing sport to bring people and families together,” said Kudaba.
Soccer – London 2012
Olympic bronze medallist Carmelina Moscato created the Coaching for Impact initiative to increase female leaders within sport. Each year, the program provides 15 women the opportunity to begin their coaching careers, overcome financial and cultural intimidations, and give back to their respective communities. The OLY Canada Legacy Grant will help four of these 15 women kickstart their coaching journey, with a minimum of 50% of the sponsorships given to female coaches within the BIPOC population.
“Receiving the 2020 OLY Canada Legacy Grant funding is a massive bright spot in a really tough year for all of us. There is nothing that excites me more than contributing to the growth of the game of soccer in Canada. This grant will contribute to more women entering the coaching stream and in turn connecting to players in grassroots, youth and even senior team environments eventually. Our society is craving more female leaders and our sport and platform is an excellent way to continue contributions to moving the needle,” said Moscato.
Swimming – Sydney 2000
Tim Peterson is looking to lead development of a training camp for swimmers aged 11-16 years old at the North Vancouver Cruisers Summer Aquatics Club. Existing Cruisers coaching staff and high-performance swimmers will coach the camp program, comprised of three consecutive three-hour days focusing on mentorship, improving technical skills, dryland and pool sessions. The grant will help the program to run for four years to develop structured training and competition opportunities, youth leadership development, meaningful volunteerism for youth and parents, and fun events and activities.
“The OLY Canada Legacy Grant will support this multi-year training camp to grow the next generation of athletes, coaches, and community leaders. I am so excited to build on the good work that Cruisers Aquatics does, and prepare the kids to take on coaching roles in a few years. I can still remember, as an age group swimmer, meeting Mark Tewksbury in 1994 as part of the Junior Swim Bursary program. Hearing Mark’s story of Olympic gold set me on the course to realize my own Olympic dream in 2000. I hope to have a similar impact on the Cruisers swimmers!” said Peterson.
Swimming – Montreal 1976
Andy Ritchie and the swimming community of Northwestern Ontario have created Project Velocity – Northern Swimmers Take Flight with the objective to purchase and install a new FINA-approved starting platform to aid swimmers within the Thunder Bay-area. This advancement at the Canada Games Complex in Thunder Bay will start a process to bring the pool back to Provincial and National standards, to formulate training advantages, and create opportunity for future hosting.
“Thank you, Canadian Olympic Committee and the OLY Canada Legacy Grant program! The impact you have made on PROJECT VELOCITY is profound and vastly exciting to us here in Northern Ontario. All great accomplishments begin with one small step and you have just helped us take that step. Your generous support has purchased a state-of-the-art starting block and soon our swimmers will be flying off that block!” said Ritchie.
Cross-Country Skiing – Nagano 1998 / Salt Lake City 2002 / Turin 2006
As the Founder and CEO of Spirit North, a charitable organization with a mission to empower and inspire Indigenous youth through sport and play, Olympic champion Beckie Scott, along with Olympians Megan Imrie and Jesse Cockney, seeks to provide youth of the Tsuut’ina Nation with the opportunity to experience the transformational power of land-based sport and activity to lead to meaningful change. This program will implement the delivery of in-school and after-school sport and activity programs, providing leadership, coaching certifications, equipment support, and community engagement opportunities. Operating with the goals to improve the physical and mental health of students, this program will advance academic outcomes, increase family/community engagement in school and sport activities, and promote overall community wellness.
“A contribution to Spirit North is an investment in health, hope and happiness for Indigenous children and youth across Canada. We are very grateful for the support from this grant as it will directly impact Spirit North’s ability to empower and inspire Indigenous children and youth through sport and play,” said Scott.
Athletics – London 2012 / Bobsleigh – PyeongChang 2018
Two-sport Olympian Seyi Smith and the Racing to Zero – YYC project will lead a change in sport sustainability during the athletics season in Calgary, specifically around waste reduction at meets. He aims to make small track meets more environmentally sustainable through reducing the need of single use plastic bottles and replacing with a mobile water fountain, incentivizing directors to use sustainability in planning, and promoting attendee education on sport sustainability using the sustainability passport.
“Thank you to the COC for the trust in me and my project. Typical to many grassroots projects, having an idea is not enough and the early financial support is critical in helping get us over those first hurdles. This grant is essential and will be put to good use. I look forward to achieving that return on the investment to the COC and especially my local community,” said Smith.