Team Canada makes statement to embrace next generation LGBTQ+ athletes
TORONTO (June 21, 2019) – To kick-off Pride weekend festivities in Toronto, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and the Canadian Olympic Foundation (Foundation) have made a statement to the sport community embracing the next generation of LGBTQ+ athletes.
Olympic champion Eric Radford announced Friday, on behalf of the Foundation, a $10,000 contribution towards the Sports Inclusion Officer and Facilitator position created by You Can Play and Egale Canada.
As the official charitable organization of Team Canada, the Foundation aims to create opportunities for the next generation, capable of greatness through Olympic values. This contribution helps support athletes and coaches to have the opportunity to represent Canada by eliminating the barriers in sport.
Based in Toronto, the Sports Inclusion Officer and Facilitator works as part of the Egale team and in conjunction with the staff of You Can Play in both Canada and the United States. Working closely with the Sports Inclusion Task Force, they promote, conduct outreach and schedule training sessions in schools, youth, community groups and sport federations across Canada.
“The reason why I choose to add my story to the LGBTQ+ athletes who paved the way before me is in hopes of inspiring the younger generation to celebrate our successes and our differences,” said Radford, a #OneTeam Ambassador. “Helping to fund this position supported by the Foundation is game-changing because it will help break down barriers that prevent aspiring athletes from participating in sports.”
Radford, who is the first openly gay male athlete in history to win a gold medal at the Olympic Winter Games, is featured in a captivating spot that was released by Team Canada on Friday. The spot depicts a young athlete watching Canadian LGBTQ+ trailblazers who have paved the way for next generation athletes.
Other athletes featured in the spot include Harrison Browne and Kristen Worley, who earlier in the day, took part in a thought-provoking panel discussion hosted by CBC Sports journalist Devin Heroux, at the COC’s office above the CF Toronto Eaton Centre. Joined by fellow panellists Radford and Egale Canada’s Helen Kennedy, the group tackled important issues regarding diversity and inclusion in sport while giving unique perspectives of their individual journeys.
“When I look back at my personal journey as an athlete to now, it’s clear to see that we’ve come a long way over the last 20 years,” said Worley, pioneer and high-performance cyclist. “We are at a turning point in the sporting community where real change is occurring, asking questions about why and how we do sport, and why the next generation of athletes that come after us will benefit from these efforts. Through authentic conversations that have begun, we are allowing for broader engagement across the sporting system in Canada and around the world.”
“We, as athletes, should be judged by our performances on the field of play and our character off of it, not by anyone’s gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or sexual differences,” added Browne, the first transgender athlete in professional hockey. “The road hasn’t always been easy, but I stand here today able to be my authentic self. I hope my journey will help the younger generation and inspiring athletes to feel comfortable in their own skin in order to be their true selves.”
The $10,000 announcement was made in conjunction with the launch of Team Canada’s 2019 ‘Be You’ pop-up store located at the CF Toronto Eaton Centre, the Home of Team Canada. The pop-up, which will be open from June 21 to 23, sells t-shirts and badges designed to support Team Canada’s commitment to making sport a safer and more inclusive environment. Team Canada also launched an online store giving fans across Canada the opportunity to show their support.
The pop-up launch also involved the unveiling of a mural by “Shalak Attack”, a Canadian-Chilean visual artist based in Toronto who for over a decade has manifested her artistic expression on walls across the world. Inspired by Team Canada’s ‘Be You’ platform and #OneTeam initiative, the mural represents unity for all. The COC has announced that the mural will be donated to Egale Canada.
Launched in 2018, ‘Be You’, a brand extension of Team Canada’s bold Be Olympic platform, is a diversity and inclusion campaign with the goal of empowering the sport community to be their authentic selves.
Now a subset of ‘Be You’, the #OneTeam Ambassador program, created in 2014, aims to connect Team Canada with communities across the country to promote mental fitness, self-esteem and LGBTQ+ inclusion in sport as well as provide educational resources through the Canadian Olympic School Program.
In 2014, the COC announced unprecedented steps to protect and support LGBTQ+ athletes, youth and coaches in sport and schools. A tri-party Memorandum of Understanding was signed between You Can Play, the premier organization for LGBTQ+ equality in sport, and Egale, Canada’s only national charity promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights in amateur and high-level sport.
Since 2015, #OneTeam resources made available through the Canadian Olympic School Program have been downloaded 108,697 times by educators, athletes, coaches and community groups.
Josh Su, Specialist, Public Relations
Canadian Olympic Committee