15 Olympian-led community projects to receive OLY Canada Legacy Grants
Athletes compete at the Olympic Games with almost the entire world watching them. But just as important — if not more so — is what they do afterwards, when the spotlight isn’t shining as brightly.
Many Team Canada Olympians have extended their legacy by developing incredibly impactful initiatives within their communities. The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) is proud to support 15 such projects this year with the fifth edition of the OLY Canada Legacy Grant.
This edition awarded a total of $100,000 across the 15 not-for-profit initiatives, each of which focuses on access to sport, safe sport, or sustainability in their communities. The selected projects fall into three categories:
- Podium – helps to strengthen the sport system and support the athlete journey
- Play – improves accessibility, encourages inclusivity and diversity among youth and communities at all levels of sport
- Planet – promotes and supports environmental sustainability, the health of our planet, and the preservation of our sporting environments
Here’s a quick glimpse at this year’s grant recipients and the great work they’re doing:
Carol Huynh OLY – Wrestling – Beijing 2008, London 2012
- Taking Down Barriers empowers the development of female wrestling coaches through panels, workshops and camps to promote diversity in the sport and create a safer environment for female athletes.
Jill Moffatt OLY – Rowing – Tokyo 2020
- MOMentum supports elite Canadian female athletes with any family planning needs during their preparation and recovery from national team events through grants, education, mentorship from fellow athletes, and legal resources. The project is in collaboration with Olympians Melissa Bishop-Nriagu (athletics), Mandy Bujold (boxing), Kim Gaucher (basketball) and Paralympian Erica Gavel (wheelchair basketball).
“It feels amazing to receive the OLY Legacy Grant. This grant empowers us to effect tangible change for current Olympians and Paralympians, by addressing a crucial resource gap in the realm of family planning. We’ve come together across different sports and with differing experiences regarding motherhood, so it is exciting to pool our creativity, curiosity, and passion, together to create something special.” — Jill Moffatt
Jessica Tudos OLY – Artistic Gymnastics – Los Angeles 1984
- Jessica Tudos’ FLIP IT hosts an educational retreat for female and female-identifying leaders in the gymnastics community. The event facilitates conversations around the promotion of allyship and the adoption of actions, behaviours, and practices in support of a more ethical and safe journey in the sport.
Caroline Ouellette OLY – Ice Hockey – Salt Lake City 2002, Turin 2006, Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014
- Girls Hockey Celebration is a four-day event in Montreal that connects Olympic and national team women’s hockey players with the next generation to inspire more young girls to play hockey and help them to discover opportunities in the sport.
Phil Monckton OLY – Rowing – Montreal 1976, Los Angeles 1984
- The David and Mary Thomson HS Rowing Program introduces rowing to new Canadian youth, many of whom have had no exposure to organized sport prior to this program. Participants embark on a journey that takes them through a range of activities from swimming basics to advanced rowing, all with the underlying goal of building resilience and perseverance.
Brandon McBride OLY – Athletics – Rio 2016, Tokyo 2020
- McBride Youth United Association’s Mentorship Program is an eight-week mentorship program helping underrecognized, racialized youth cultivate a growth-oriented mindset and increase representation at the podium in various fields of play.
“I am deeply honored to be a recipient of the OLY Grant. The support of the OLY Grant is not just a financial boost but a vote of confidence in our mission. This grant will enable us to expand our reach and deepen our impact, continuing to empower and uplift the youth in our community through our mentorship program. ” — Brandon McBride
Charles Hamelin OLY – Short Track Speed Skating – Turin 2006, Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014, PyeongChang 2018, Beijing 2022
- Glissez vers l’Integration welcomes newcomers to the province of Quebec with an introductory skating course focused on community building and fun against the backdrop of the iconic Place Bell in Laval.
Laura Stacey OLY – Ice Hockey – PyeongChang 2018, Beijing 2022
- LS7 Sticks In For Charity Road Hockey Tournament is an annual event that engages the local community in a road hockey tournament, raising funds for charities that will help underrecognized youth enroll in sports programs.
“After receiving this funding I am looking forward to growing our charity tournament and raising even more money in order to provide kids with the opportunity to get involved in sports, get outside, be active, and live a healthy active lifestyle. My sister and I were very fortunate to be able to play any sport we wanted to when we were growing up and having this funding allows us to now give back and give others who are not as fortunate that same opportunity!” — Laura Stacey
- Féminaction organizes camps, trains ambassadors, and creates mentorship programs for female coaches with the goal of retaining female cross-country skiing athletes at higher levels. The program is shaped by the values of cohesion, sharing, mutual aid, and audacity.
Liam Gill OLY – Snowboard – Beijing 2022
- Liam & Friends welcomes young participants from rural communities in Alberta and the Northwest Territories where many Indigenous athletes face barriers – poverty, isolation, health issues, intergenerational trauma from residential schools, cultural barriers, and a lack of opportunity – that affect access to sport. Youth will be provided safe opportunities to socialize and have fun while developing leadership skills.
Ariane Bonhomme OLY – Track Cycling – Tokyo 2020
- Pathfinders Project takes a decolonial approach to sport in order to boost the representation of Indigenous people in elite and grassroots cycling. By showcasing Indigenous talent at the elite level, Pathfinders hopes to offer the sporting community an alternative framework to nurture elite athletes in a safer environment.
Mark Pearson OLY – Field Hockey – Beijing 2008, Rio 2016, Tokyo 2020
- Field of Dreams is a summer series designed to engage rural, underserved communities along the Gatineau River with the sport of field hockey. The two weekends of programming will remove barriers to sporting infrastructure and create a safe environment to learn and participate in field hockey, with the aim of inspiring a love of sport and the Olympic Movement.
“I feel very fortunate to have been awarded an OLY Legacy Grant for 2024. To have the support of the Canadian Olympic Committee is energizing and it will allow me to bring this project to life. I truly believe in the power of sport as a tool to bring Canadians and communities together and in the spirit and values of Olympism to inspire the next generation and I cannot wait to bring the Field of Dreams project to life this year.” — Mark Pearson
Kelleigh Ryan OLY – Fencing – Tokyo 2020
- In collaboration with fencing clubs throughout Alberta, Eliminating Fences for Fencers will support Indigenous communities and young girls with the financial costs of introductory fencing programs to encourage physical fitness and skill development.
Julie-Anne Staehli OLY – Athletics – Tokyo 2020
- Inspired by the idea of giving running shoes another life, The ReRUN Shoe Project removes barriers to a more active lifestyle by distributing lightly used shoes that would otherwise be thrown away to under resourced youth.
Marion Thénault OLY – Freestyle Skiing – Beijing 2022
- Small Footprint, Big Jumps creates guidelines for individual athletes to become carbon neutral in their sporting activities while also pushing event organizers to apply those guidelines, starting with the FIS Freestyle World Cup for aerials in Le Relais.
The OLY Canada Legacy Grant is designed to reflect the three pillars of the Team Canada Impact Agenda – the COC’s commitment to making sport safe, inclusive and barrier-free so more young people can play and stay in sport. The organization has now provided a total of $345,000 in OLY Canada Legacy Grant funding since its inception in 2019.