Equity, diversity, inclusion and participation in sport

The Government of Canada recognizes that sport in Canada must be welcoming and inclusive for all participants. At Sport Canada, EquityFootnote 1, DiversityFootnote 2 and InclusionFootnote 3 (EDI) is the practice of identifying, recognizing, and reducing inequalities and inequities that exist within sport across Canada by creating and promoting environments and opportunities for underrepresented communities.

To advance EDI in sport, Sport Canada supports research, collaborates with stakeholders and provides funding opportunities to advance equity, increase diversity, and improve inclusion through sport programming designed to reduce barriers for equity-deserving people, including women and girls, Indigenous peoples, persons with a disability, Black and racialized people, 2SLGBTQI+ Canadians and newcomers to Canada.

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Gender equity

Significant gender differences persist in participation and leadership in Canadian sport. Women and girls, especially those with other intersecting identity factors, typically report more barriers to sport and participate in sport at lower rates than men and boys (Covid Alert: The Pandemic Impact on Girls in Sport (PDF format) — Canadian Women & Sport and E-Alliance, 2021).

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring an inclusive sport system where women and girls are actively engaged and equitably supported in a full range of roles.

In the 2018 Federal Budget, the Government of Canada announced a target to achieve gender equity in sport at every level by 2035. This included an initial 3-year commitment of $30 million to support data, research and innovative practices to promote girls’ and women’s participation in sport, as well as to provide support to national sport organizations to foster greater inclusion for girls and women.

In 2018, Sport Canada supported a Working Group on Gender Equity in Sport. The Working Group gathered the experiences, perspectives and insights of 12 champions for gender equity in sport and provided a range of views and advice on strategies to better understand and serve the specific needs of women and girls in sport.

In October 2022, the Government of Canada announced renewed funding of $25.3 million over 3 years to support initiatives focused on improving gender equity and equity, diversity and inclusion in sport. Funding will be used to:

  • increase the number of women in coaching, officiating and leadership positions
  • provide more opportunities for girls and women to participate in sport
  • enhance the data collection and research necessary for decision making
  • support activities that expand efforts to include other demographic groups that are underrepresented in sport

The Gender Equity, Inclusion and Innovation unit at Sport Canada supports, administers and monitors existing and emerging gender equity initiatives and programs, and looks at innovative ways of addressing the challenges of participation and retention of girls and women in sport. Sport Canada also works to advance gender equity through collaborative efforts like the Federal-Provincial/Territorial Sport Committee Women and Girls in Sport Work Group and National Community of Practice.

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Indigenous peoples

In 2002, federal, provincial and territorial governments endorsed the first Canadian Sport Policy that acknowledged the existence of barriers to sport participation for Indigenous peoples with a goal to increase access and equity in sport. In 2005, Sport Canada published the first Policy on Aboriginal Peoples’ Participation in Sport (PDF format, 1.5 MB).

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that Indigenous peoples across the country have access to meaningful and culturally appropriate sport activities in their communities.

Budget 2018 announced an investment of $9.5 million per year ongoing to expand the use of sport for social development and resulted in the 2019 launch of the Sport for Social Development in Indigenous Communities (SSDIC) component of the Sport Support Program, delivered by the Indigenous Sport Unit of Sport Canada at Canadian Heritage.

The SSDIC component was developed in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action and supports the following community-identified social development goals:

  • improved health
  • improved education
  • reduction of at-risk behaviours
  • improved employability

More recently, following the release of the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Calls for Justice, Sport Canada created the Reconciliation and Strength for Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQI+ People through Sport (SSDIC Stream Three). Budget 2021 included $14.3 million over 5 years and $2.9 million ongoing to ensure that Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQI+ people have access to meaningful sports activities. It funds projects that seek to address 1 or more of the identified areas of focus drawn from the MMIWG Calls for Justice:

  • physical and mental health
  • suicide prevention
  • sexual trafficking awareness and prevention
  • safe and healthy relationships
  • sexual positivity (2SLGBTQI+)

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Sport Canada’s mission is to enhance opportunities for all Canadians to participate and excel in sport. To accomplish this, Sport Canada is working to ensure that every person who wishes to participate, whether as an athlete, a coach, an official or as a supporter, feels safe, welcomed and included.

While EDI explains the importance of supporting equity for all marginalized people in sport, Anti-Racism is defined as specific actions that address the systemic barriers and particular challenges that result from racism. Both EDI and Anti-Racism play an important role in impacting meaningful change for more inclusive sport.

The Government of Canada, through Sport Canada, acknowledges the deep and long-lasting impacts of systemic racism on sport in Canada. Racism alienates many Canadians by causing fear, anxiety and distrust, ultimately serving as a barrier to full sport participation.

Specifically, Sport Canada is working to identify systemic racial barriers and gaps, consider changes to policies and programs, and support new initiatives that are working to combat racism in Canadian sport.

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Funding opportunities

Sport Canada provides funding to eligible organizations across Canada. Learn about the funding initiatives that support EDI.

Community Sport for All Initiative — Sport Support Program

Funding to remove barriers, increase sport participation and retention rates, and support community sport initiatives for equity-deserving groups, in particular, Black, Indigenous, 2SLGBTQI+ and newcomers to Canada.

Sport for Social Development in Indigenous Communities — Sport Support Program

Funding to eligible organizations to deliver sport for social development projects in Indigenous communities in Canada.

International Multisport Games for Aboriginal Peoples and Persons with a Disability — Hosting Program

Funding to support the North American Indigenous Games, the Arctic Winter Games, the Special Olympics World Games and the Deaflympics.

Gender Equity and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion – Sport Support Program

CLOSING November 30, 2023

Funding is available for initiatives to achieve gender equity, and greater diversity and inclusion at all levels in sport. Priority populations for this funding includes, but is not limited to, girls and women, persons with disabilities, Indigenous peoples, people from Black, racialized, and religious minority communities, 2SLGBTQI+ populations, and newcomers to Canada.

Eligibility: Federally incorporated not-for profit organizations

Deadline: Apply before 11:59 p.m. PST on November 30, 2023

If you are interested in an application package, please send an e-mail to: contributionssportcanada@pch.gc.ca

Sport Development Pathway

Sport Canada, in collaboration with Sport for Life, helps children, youth and adults participate and excel in sport through the implementation of Long-Term Development in Sport and Physical Activity (LTD), a federal-provincial/territorial framework promoting competency in fundamental motor skills. Sport Canada supports each stage of sport development by providing programs and services to help grow athletes, coaches, officials and leaders.

  • Sport for Life is an organization that develops physical literacy and delivers quality sport. Quality sport consists of developmentally appropriate, safe and inclusive, and well-run programming.
  • Children, youth and adults need to do the right things at the right time to develop in their sport or activity. The LTD framework, adopted by provincial and territorial governments, provides a pathway for athletes to optimize skill development at specific ages and stages. The objective of the framework is to promote both sporting excellence at the highest international level and life-long engagement in health-enhancing physical activity.
  • In collaboration with various stakeholders, Sport for Life has developed complementary resources available to sport organizations and communities. For example:
    • The Indigenous Long-Term Participant Development Pathway is a resource designed to help sport and physical activity leaders and organizations enhance their understanding about how to support Indigenous participants and athletes in their programming;
    • No Accidental Champions is a resource that describes some of the opportunities and challenges that face persons with permanent disabilities in pursuing sport and physical activity

Bilateral agreements with the provinces and territories

The Government of Canada encourages sport participation and physical activity among children and youth by supporting sport participation projects and activities through bilateral agreements with provinces and territories.

Contact us

For more information about Sport Canada’s role supporting EDI in sport, please contact sportcanadaedi-edisportcanada@pch.gc.ca.

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