Olympians, pro athletes march in Pride parade

August 31, 2014

Largest contingent of athletes ever at a Calgary Pride event unite with You Can Play to fight homophobia in sport

CALGARY – Today, members of the Canadian Olympic Team, together with more than a dozen athletes from Calgary’s pro sport community, united to tell the world that there is a place for everyone in sport. Members of the Calgary Flames, Stampeders, Hitmen, Roughnecks and Calgary Inferno joined local Olympians, greeted tens of thousands of fans and supporters along the parade route lining Stephen Avenue.

“This is the third parade this year in which I have had the opportunity to march with my fellow teammates. Each time, I am reminded of just how lucky we all are to be Canadian,” said John Fennell, Sochi 2014 Olympian. “It is not lost on me that in many parts of the world, a gathering celebrating equality would be outlawed and for that, I am so proud to march for those who can’t.”

“Anytime, we as a sport community can come together to send a positive message to Canadians, it’s a win,” added Jeff Christie, two-time Olympian and Chair, COC Athletes’ Commission. “For us athletes, the only thing that matters on and off the field of play is dedication, effort and your ability to perform at your best. If you can play, we want you on Team Canada.”

This was the second consecutive year members of Canadian Olympic Team marched in Calgary, and it follows a summer-long campaign of participating in parades and LGBT-related activities across the country, including World Pride in Toronto, where approximately 100 athletes and support staff marched in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators along Yonge Street.

“It’s important for those in a position of influence to stand up for things that matter. This is one of those times,” said Mikael Backland of the Calgary Flames. “In our locker room, we’re a close family and all that matters is your ability to contribute to our team’s success.”

You Can Play’s message of equality and fairness in sport has broken ground in locker rooms across North America, and this is the second time this summer the Canadian Olympic Committee has partnered with the organization at a Pride parade.

“You Can Play is again thrilled to see the sports community stepping up to support the LGBT community. The province of Alberta has had unprecedented support from professional and Olympic athletes this year. We hope that young athletes of all backgrounds are inspired by the leadership the elite athletes in their community are showing,” said Patrick Burke, Co-Founder, You Can Play. “The world’s best athletes know that inclusion strengthens teams and communities. Calgary is simply the latest community to show that to our youth.”

‎”There is momentum currently building for issues of inclusion in sport, where athletes are coming together to send a clear and powerful message. It’s incredible to witness Olympians teaming up to support their LGBT teammates across our country,” added Chris Overholt, CEO, Canadian Olympic Committe. “This not only speaks to Canada’s commitment to diversity, but it lends credence to the notion that our sport community is quickly becoming a more welcoming place for all athletes. This is a much-needed step forward.”

Photos of today’s Pride march will be available here.


Canadian Olympic Committee Media Office:

Jane Almeida, Senior Manager, Media Relations
Tel: 416-324-4120 / Cell: 416-540-1788

Luc Beaudin, Coordinator, Communications and Media Relations
Cell: 514-206-6720

Marc-André Plouffe, Executive Director, Communications
Tel: 514-861-5487 / Cell: 416-428-0572

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