Working Group on Gender Equity in Sport of the Minister of Science and Sport

Overview

Why a Working Group on Gender Equity in Sport?

Canadians should all have the opportunities to get involved and excel in sport, regardless of gender, age, and ability. They should be able to do so in an environment free of discrimination or harassment.

In Budget 2018, the Government of Canada announced a target to achieve gender equity in sport at every level by 2035. This included an initial commitment of $30 million over three years to support data and research into innovative practices to promote women and girls’ participation in sport, and to support national sports organizations in promoting greater inclusion of women and girls in all facets of sport.

The Minister of Science and Sport has convened a Working Group on Gender Equity in Sport to gather the experiences, perspectives and insights of 12 champions for gender equity in sport and to provide a range of views and advice on strategies to better understand and serve the specific needs of women and girls in sport.

The members of the Working Group will exchange knowledge and experience on women and girls participation in sport through:

Reviewing existing research and data to determine the current status of participation in sport by Canadian women and girls;

  • Sharing personal experiences in sport;
  • Discussing the needs, challenges and barriers faced by women and girls;
  • Discussing trends and issues that may be impacting participation;
  • Highlighting existing opportunities for success;
  • Proposing ideas, approaches and strategies to eliminate barriers and increase participation; and,
  • Identifying and discussing research and data gaps.

A representative working group

The members of the Working Group on Gender Equity in Sport were selected to reflect all facets of the Canadian sport landscape.

The selected individuals represent a wide variety of experiences as sport leaders, media, academics, coaches, and athletes.

Important consideration was also given to diversity, as well as gender, official languages, ethno-cultural backgrounds, age groups, and geographic location to ensure a fair representation of the Canadian population.

Read the biographies of the members of the Working Group.

Status of women and girls in sport in Canada

The Minister of Science and Sport is responsible for promoting healthier Canadians through sport and recreation, and for ensuring that the Canadian sport system provides all Canadians the opportunity to get involved in sport at all levels – from playground to podium – and in all forms of participation.

Significant work has taken place in recent years to study the status of sport for women and girls. Over the last two decades, there has been progress as the Canadian sport landscape has changed considerably. There are more competitive opportunities for women and girls in more sports. Canadian female athletes are increasingly participating in high performance sport and regularly achieve success internationally.

However, the results of recent studies continue to demonstrate that more work is needed.

Women and girls participate in sport and recreation less than men and boys as athletes, coaches, and leaders in Canada across all demographic categories. There is even less evidence about the experiences of girls with disabilities, Indigenous girls, or girls from any other under-represented group.

The voices and stories of all women and girls, particularly those that do not currently participate in sport, need to be included. Additional work will be done to push and innovate in areas where change is most needed – sport program design, delivery, communication, and media.

Mandate

On this page:

Background

The mandate of the Minister of Science and Sport includes promoting healthier Canadians through sport and recreation and ensuring that the Canadian sport system provides all Canadians with the chance to get involved in sport at all levels – playground to podium – and in all forms of participation.

To support this objective, the Government is setting a target to achieve gender equity in sport at every level by 2035, and proposes to provide an initial $30 million over three years to support data and research and innovative practices to promote women and girls’ participation in sport, and provide support to national sports organizations to promote the greater inclusion of women and girls in all facets of sport.

Significant work has taken place in recent years to study the state of sport for women and girls. Over the last two decades, there has been progress as the Canadian sport landscape has changed considerably. There are more competitive opportunities for women and girls in more sports and Canadian female athletes are increasingly participating in high performance sport and regularly achieving podium success internationally. Nevertheless, the results of recent studies continue to demonstrate that more work is needed. Women and girls remain under-represented in sport and recreation as participants, coaches and leaders in Canada across all demographic categories.

Underlying this state of affairs is that there is a lack of research and data specifically about how sport is experienced by women and girls. There is even less evidence about the experiences of girls with disabilities, Indigenous girls, or girls from any other under-represented group. The voices and stories of all women and girls, particularly those that reject sport, need to be embraced. Additional work is needed to push and innovate in areas where change is most needed – sport program design, delivery, communication and media.

Purpose

The purpose of this Working Group is to gather the experiences, perspectives and insights of champions for gender equity in sport so as to provide the Minister with a range of views and advice on strategies to better understand and serve the needs of women and girls.

Working Group type/term

The Working Group is formed ad hoc with an expected duration of May 2018 to December 31, 2018.

Objective

The objective of the Minister’s Working Group on Gender Equity in Sport is to share experiences, perspectives and insights on how to achieve gender equity in sport by 2035 by discussing the following:

  1. Delivering programming specifically for women and girls in sport;
  2. Addressing gender-based violence in sport including sexual harassment;
  3. Increasing the representation of women in sport leadership positions.

Meetings

The Working Group will meet four (4) to five (5) times over the course of the term.

Meetings will be held at a time, date and location determined by the Chair.

Working Group members are encouraged to participate in meetings in person and where not possible, by teleconference or other means.

Activities

The members of the Working Group will facilitate an exchange of knowledge and experience on women and girls participation in sport through:

  • Reviewing existing research and data to determine the current status of participation in sport by Canadian women and girls;
  • Sharing personal experiences in sport;
  • Discussing the needs, challenges and barriers faced by women and girls;
  • Discussing trends and issues that may be impacting participation;
  • Highlighting existing opportunities for success;
  • Proposing ideas, approaches and strategies for eliminating barriers and increasing participation; and,
  • Identifying and discussing research and data gaps.

Each meeting will focus on one or more elements of the Gender Equity in Sport initiative and include a discussion on the impact of research and data.

Meetings may include the review of reports, research studies, and/or presentations.

The Secretariat will capture a record of the discussions of the Working Group which will be provided as input to the Minister of Science and Sport on the Gender Equity in Sport initiative.

Composition

The Working Group (as determined by the Minister) shall be composed of champions working to increase the participation of women and girls in sport.

Role/Organization Name

Federal-provincial-territorial Work Group on Women and Girls in Sport, President of Égale Action

Guylaine Demers (Chair)

Chair of the International Paralympic Athlete Council,
Chair of the Canadian Paralympic Committee’s Athlete Council, National Team Athlete (retired, para-swimming)

Chelsey Gotell

Former Head Coach of Canada’s Women’s National Team and current Head Coach and Men’s National EXCEL Director, Canada’s Men’s National Soccer Team (soccer)

John Herdman

Olympian, Activist and Speaker on Indigenous reconciliation, National Team Athlete (retired, water polo)

Waneek Horn-Miller

Federal-provincial-territorial Work Group on Women and Girls in Sport, Vice-President, University of Toronto, and Principal at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus

Bruce Kidd

CEO, Coaching Association of Canada

Lorraine Lafrenière

Broadcast Sport Journalist and Producer

Nancy Lee

Former Executive Director, Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity

Karin Lofstrom

Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity

Allison Sandmeyer-Graves

Director, Long-Term Athlete Development, Sport for Life Society

Carolyn Trono

National Team Athlete (retired, paddler)

Adam van Koeverden

National Team Athlete (retired, hockey)

Hayley Wickenheiser

Chair and secretariat

The Minister of Science and Sport named Guylaine Demers as the Chair of Working Group.

The Working Group will be supported by a Secretariat housed within Sport Canada. Financial and human resources for the Secretariat will be provided by Sport Canada.

Roles and responsibilities

The Chair is responsible for:

  • Consulting with the Minister’s office and officials on the meeting agenda and desired outcomes;
  • Encouraging active and constructive participation by all members;
  • Ensuring that the deliberations of the Working Group advance the objectives; and,
  • Ensuring that the discussion of the Working Group is accurately reflected in the record of the meeting.

The Working Group members are responsible for:

  • Preparing for meetings through the review of materials;
  • Attending and actively participating in meetings;
  • Updating the Secretariat on changes to contact details, meeting availability, special needs, etc.

The Secretariat is responsible for:

  • Communicating details regarding the meetings, including the location, agenda, conference call information, etc.;
  • Securing equipment, meetings rooms, etc.;
  • Maintaining a record of the meetings; and,
  • Maintaining the Working Group membership list.

Expenses and compensation

Members of the Working Group will not receive any financial remuneration for work performed. However, Sport Canada will reimburse members for approved accommodation, meals and travel costs when attending meetings outside of their home community in accordance with applicable Department of Canadian Heritage and Treasury Board Directives.

Definitions

Gender Equity is the process of allocating resources, programs, and decision making fairly to both males and females without any discrimination on the basis of sex…and addressing any imbalances in the benefits available to males and females.

This requires ensuring that everyone has access to a full range of opportunities to achieve the social, psychological and physical benefits that come from participating and leading in sport and physical activity. It does not necessarily mean making the same programs and facilities available to both males and females.

Gender equity requires that girls and women be provided with a full range of activity and program choices that meet their needs, interests and experiences. Therefore, some activities may be the same as those offered to boys and men, some may be altered, and some may be altogether different.

Human rights legislation, including the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, has affirmed the principles of equity while making provisions for affirmative action programs to eliminate disadvantages.

Gender Equity also requires an examination of organizational practices and policies that may hinder the participation of girls and women. For example, this requires service providers to assess:

  • Hiring and recruitment practices
    • to ensure women have leadership roles, and involved in decision-making, and are available as role models for other girls and women;
  • Resource allocation
    • to determine how budgets are allocated across programs;
  • Facility bookings
    • to ensure that both females and males have access to prime time slots and prime facilities;
  • Participation rates
    • to evaluate current programs and services to identify potential barriers, and to determine whether co-ed programs are truly co-ed;
  • Activity programming
    • to assess the types of activities offered for males and females; and
  • Promotional materials
    • to ensure girls and women are not being excluded or stereotyped in pictures or language.

Positive initiatives that target specific groups are important because they take into account years of socialization and historical traditions that have created imbalances, subsequently marginalizing sectors of the population because these conditions are accepted as the norm.

Source of the definitions: Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity

Members

Guylaine Demers

Laval, QC
Guylaine is a Full Professor at Laval University and the President of Égale Action (in French only), an organization dedicated to the equality of women through sport and physical activity. Her areas of expertise include women in sport, coach education, competency-based training and homophobia in sport. She is on the editorial board of the Canadian Journal for Women in Coaching and has previously sat on the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sports Board of Directors.

Chelsey Gotell

Toronto, ON
As Chairperson of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletes’ Council, Chelsey serves on the IPC Board of Governors and the IOC Athlete Commission. She has served as the Athlete Services Officer for the Canadian Paralympic Team Mission Staff for Rio 2016, Toronto 2015, Sochi 2014, and London 2012. She worked for the Toronto 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games Organizing Committee from 2010 to 2014. Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Chelsey is a passionate athlete advocate for sport and the Paralympic movement and a motivational speaker who believes in what the power of sport can do to positively change lives.

John Herdman

Consett, UK
John is the current head coach of Canada’s Men’s National Soccer Team. Previously, he was head coach for Canada’s Women’s National Soccer Team from 2011 to 2017 and led the squad to two Olympic bronze medals at Rio 2016 and London 2012. John was also head coach for the New Zealand Women’s National Football Team from 2006 to 2011.

Waneek Horn-Miller

Gatineau, QC
Waneek is currently working with the Assembly of First Nations as the IndigenACTION Ambassador to develop a National Indigenous Sport, Fitness and Wellness Strategy, with an aim to attract Indigenous youth to higher education by building self-esteem and emphasizing a balance between education and sport. In 2015, she was named one of Canada’s most influential women in sport by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS). In 1999, she won the national Tom Longboat Award that recognizes Aboriginal athletes for their outstanding contributions to sport in Canada.

Bruce Kidd

Ottawa, ON
Bruce is an Olympian and former track and field athlete who is now the Co-Chair of the Ontario Minister’s Advisory Panel on Ontario’s Sport Plan. He is an honorary member of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and an Officer of the Order of Canada (2004). A renowned author and academic, Bruce is currently Vice-President, University of Toronto, and Principal at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus.

Lorraine Lafrenière

Ottawa, ON
Lorraine is known as a strategic thinker, and has been a strong and well-respected leader in the sport community for many years. Her passion for sports goes back decades. She provides strong leadership around ethics in coaching, and is an advocate for the promotion of coaching programs specifically targeting and tailored to women. Lorraine is currently the Chief Executive Officer at the Coaching Association of Canada.

Nancy Lee

Toronto, ON
Nancy worked as a CBC reporter, producer and management executive at four Commonwealth Games, two Pan American Games and 15 Summer and Winter Olympic Games. As Head of CBC Sports, her role was to oversee the production and lead the negotiations for the Corporation’s sports programming. She is the only woman in the world to have held such a position. Last year she coordinated the Gender Equality Review project for the International Olympic Committee; the project’s recommendations and call-to-action require gender equality in all facets of the Olympic Movement.

Karin Lofstrom

Ottawa, ON
Karin has more than 30 years of experience working with national, provincial, territorial and multi-sport organizations in Canada and around the world. She was Executive Director of CAAWS for 14 years, providing leadership for a wide range of initiatives. She developed the Women and Sport Policy Recommendations and examples for the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) to present to the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities in November 2017, and worked with Sport Canada on the revision of the Women in Sport Policy and Action Plan released in summer 2009. Karin also volunteered as Secretary Treasurer for eight years on the International Association of Physical Education and Sport for Girls and Women (IAPESGW) and was a member of the COC’s Women and Sport Committee for nine years (2008 to 2017).

Allison Sandmeyer-Graves

Toronto, ON
Allison is an experienced non-profit leader with a passion for social innovation that advances equity and opportunity. She has diverse experiences leading innovative partnerships, programs, fundraising and operations. She brings a holistic perspective and ability to align activities for maximum social impact. Allison believes that sport and physical activity offer powerful opportunities for people to realize their full potential, a conviction that stems from her own experiences with competitive and recreational sports throughout her life. As CEO of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS), Allison seeks to ensure that more women, girls and marginalized Canadians enjoy these myriad benefits, improving the sports system and Canadian society in the process.

Carolyn Trono

Winnipeg, MB
Carolyn has worked in the Canadian sport system for more than 30 years with a variety of national and provincial sport organizations, and is currently working at the Sport for Life Society. In her current role, she has worked with many national sport organizations in the development of their Long-Term Athlete Development Plan (LTADP) frameworks and Competition Review and Restructuring Plans to ensure that LTADP are embedded into their culture and programs. She also started the Winnipeg Newcomer Soccer and Multi-Sport Academy, working extensively with various immigration organizations to address challenges faced by girls, including enriching sport opportunities for young women in the hope of improving self-confidence.

Adam van Koeverden

Toronto, ON
Adam is one of Canada’s most celebrated athletes and has four Olympic medals—the most by a Canadian paddler. He sees his opportunity to affect positive change in Canada’s youth as his most rewarding obligation as a Canadian Olympian and public speaker. He also plays a key role in giving athletes a voice at the Canadian Olympic Committee executive level and providing recommendations to the COC on a wide range of issues that affect high-performance athletes.

Hayley Wickenheiser

Calgary, AB
Hayley is the longest-serving member of Canada’s National Hockey Women’s Team. She has won four gold medals and one silver medal, making her one of Canada’s most decorated Olympians. She is the founder of the Canadian Tire Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival (WickFest), where over 2,000 players compete and connect while building positive female hockey experiences across all levels. In addition, she is active with such charities as Spread the Net, Clean Air Champions and Right to Play, and is Chair of the Athletes’ Advisory Group at Highmark Interactive. Hayley was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in June 2011.

Meetings

The work that will be accomplished by this working group will inform and complement other initiatives aiming to achieve gender equity in sport. The last meeting of the Working Group is scheduled for November 22-23, 2018.

Agendas

May 25, 2018
3:30 - 4:30 p.m.

Time Topic Presenter

3:30 - 3:35

Minister’s Welcome

Minister Kirsty Duncan

3:35 - 3:50

Round Table Introductions

All

3:50 - 4:05

Minister’s Vision

Minister Kirsty Duncan

4:05 - 4:10

Review of Working Group Terms of Reference

Chair Guylaine Demers

4:10 - 4:25

Meeting Schedule and Themes:

  • Participation of Women and Girls
  • Women in Leadership
  • Gender Based Violence
  • Innovation through Experimentation

Chair Guylaine Demers

4:25 – 4:30

Minister’s Closing Remarks

Minister Kirsty Duncan

June 20, 2018
9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Meeting objective: To discuss actions that will improve and increase sport participation of diverse women and girls.

Time Topic Presenter

9:30 - 9:35

Welcome

Minister and Chair

9:35 - 10:00

Review of Reading Materials

Chair

10:00-10:30

Presentation

  • Ice Breaker Activity

Angela Kiraly – Sport Canada

10:30-11:00

Breakout Session #1

  • What needs to be done for girls to stay involved in sport and have positive experiences?

Three (3) groups of four (4) members

11:00-11:15

Health Break

N/A

11:15-11:45

Breakout Session #2

  • How do we do it (in reference to #1)?

Three (3) groups of four (4) members

11:45-12:30

Presentation of Subgroups

  • Discussions and Development of Findings

Chair, All

12:30-13:30

Lunch

N/A

13:30-14:00

Breakout Session #3

  • Why will it work this time?

Three (3) groups of four (4) members

14:00-14:45

Presentation of Subgroups

  • Discussions and Development of Findings

Chair, All

14:45-15:15

Plenary Discussion - Data Gaps

  1. What don’t we know about sport participation and experience in sport of women and girls?
  2. What information/statistics would help us design better programs?
  3. Who is in a position to collect this data (or share it if it has already been collected)?

Chair, All

15:15-15:30

Health Break

N/A

15:30-16:15

Plenary Discussion – Top 5 Actions

Chair, All

16:15-16:30

Closing Remarks

  • Feedback about the first meeting
  • Next meeting

Minister and Chair

August 30, 2018
9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Theme: Gender-Based Violence

Time Topic Presenter

9:00 - 9:05

Welcome

Chair

9:05 – 9:30

Working Group Outcomes Framework

  • Clarifications and questions

Chair

9:30 – 10:30

Presentation: Gender-Based Violence (1)

  • Vocabulary
  • The Canadian situation

Gretchen Kerr
Sandi Kirby

10:30 – 10:50

Scope of the GBV Concept: Government of Canada Perspective

Christina Mocella
Status of Women Canada

10:50 - 11:05

Sport Canada’s Jurisdiction in Addressing Gender-Based Violence

Jocelyn East
Sport Canada

11:05 - 11:20

Health break

N/A

11:20 - 13:00

Working Lunch
Panel Discussion: Existing Work and Initiatives

  • What is the role and mandate of your organization in preventing and/or managing abuse and harassment as it pertains to the sport system?
  • What do you perceive as the current gaps in the system?
  • What actions do you believe would help bridge those gaps?


Questions and Answers

  • B2ten
  • Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC)
  • Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES)
  • Sport’AIDE
  • Canadian Centre for Child Protection (CCP)
  • Coaching Association of Canada (CAC)
  • Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS)
  • Respect Group Inc.

 

13:00 – 13:15

Health break

 

13:15 – 14:00

Presentation: Gender-Based Violence (2)

  • Examples of recommendations

Gretchen Kerr
Sandi Kirby

14:00 – 14:45

Breakout Session

  • What needs to be done to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for all girls and women in sport?

Three (3) groups of four (4) members

14:45 - 15:15

Presentation of Subgroups

  • Discussions and development of findings

All

15:15 - 15:30

Health break

N/A

15:30 - 16:00

Interactive Session with Gretchen and Sandi on Our Recommendations

  • Is anything missing?

Gretchen Kerr
Sandi Kirby
All

16:00 - 16:20

Plenary Discussion – Top 5 Actions

Chair
Gretchen Kerr
Sandi Kirby
All

16:20 - 16:30

Closing Remarks

  • Communications Update
  • Feedback about this meeting
  • Next meeting

Chair
Sport Canada Communications

November 22, 2018
9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Theme: Representation of Women in Leadership Positions

Time Topic Presenter
9:00 - 9:05 1. Welcoming Remarks Chair
9:05 - 9:15 2. Introducing Nicole LaVoi
3. Update since Last Meeting
Chair
9:15 - 10:00

4. Situation of Women Leaders

  • Coaches
Nicole LaVoi
10:00 – 10:30 5. Teleconference with Minister Duncan Minister Duncan
All
10:30 - 10:45 Health break -
10:45 – 11:30

Situation of Women Leaders

  • Administrators/Board Members
  • Officials/Referees
Nicole LaVoi
Chair
11:30 - 12:30 7. Sport Canada's Funding Framework Sport Canada
12:30 - 13:15 Lunch -
13:15 - 14:15

8. Breakout Sessions

  • Recommended actions for coaches
  • Recommended actions for officials
  • Recommended actions for administrators
Three sub-groups:
1) Coaches
2) Officials
3) Administrators
14:15 - 15:00 9. Sharing of Recommended Actions for Each Category All
Nicole LaVoi
15:00 - 15:15 Health break -
15:15 - 16:15 10. Plenary Discussion – Top 3 Actions for Each Category All
Nicole LaVoi
16:15 - 16:30

11. Closing Remarks

  • Feedback About This Meeting
  • Tomorrow's Agenda
Chair
Vicki Walker

November 23, 2018
8:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.

Theme: Innovation Through Experimentation

Time Topic Presenter
8:30 - 9:00

1. Survey on Attitudes Towards Sport

  • Pol.is
Joanne Kay
Sport Canada
9:00 - 9:05

2. Introducing Today's Theme:

  • Innovation Through Experimentation
Chair
9:05 - 10:30 3. Review of Innovative Programs and Initiatives that are Currently Seeing Results in the United States and in Canada Nicole LaVoi
Chair
10:30- 10:45 Health break -
10:45 - 11:30 4. How to Improve our Ability to Collect Disaggregated Data Nicole LaVoi
All
11:30 - 12:00 5. Plenary Discussion – Top 3 Actions All
12:00 - 12:15 6. Wrap-up and Closing Remarks Chair
Andrew Campbell
12:15 - 13:15 Lunch -
Meeting summaries

Meeting summaries

Meeting summary for June 20, 2018

On June 20, 2018, the Minister’s Working Group on Gender Equity in Sport (The Working Group) had its first in-person meeting to discuss the role of the Federal Government in improving and increasing the participation of women and girls in sport, who consistently participate at lower rates than their male counter-parts. The meeting consisted of the following sessions:

  • Welcoming remarks and planning discussion;
  • An empathy-based icebreaker activity;
  • A breakout session wherein the Working Group separated into two groups that each developed “actions we can take tomorrow to improve participation for women and girls”;
  • A debriefing exercise wherein the groups described their actions; and,
  • A lightening round wherein each member proposed two high priority actions for the Government of Canada.

The top areas of interest for the members were as follows:

  • Getting women into leadership positions so they can model positive sport participation for others and contribute to the design of programs that will be more welcoming for women and girls;
  • Having Sport Canada integrate gender equity principles into its funding agreements (possibly withholding funding from organizations that are not actively working to improve gender equity within their sphere of influence); and,
  • Improving the quality of the coaching that women and girls receive to ensure that women and girls have the skills necessary to thrive in sport and enjoy their sport experiences.

Implementation areas

The group made some suggestions which could be quickly actioned by Sport Canada in the short term:

  • Engage in research to develop a picture of grassroots participation and conduct an assessment of National Sport Organizations (NSO) and Multisport Service organizations successes.
  • Fund additional research on girls’ participation: there is still so much we do not know. This could be accomplished using money allocated in Budget 2018 for reaching gender equity in sport at all levels.
  • Increase funding to the Female Coach Mentorship Program currently being piloted by the Coaching Association of Canada.

The Working Group made some suggestions which could be actioned by Sport Canada in the medium term:

  • Connect the sport volunteer base with the formal sport leadership by developing a participation strategy toolkit that NSO could use to create a participation strategy appropriate to their sport.
  • Ensure that women and girls have examples of athletic success and excellence to aspire to by working with national team athletes receiving support through the Athlete Assistance Program and/or other Sport Canada clients.
  • Explore how Sport Canada could contribute to the participation of women and girls at the community-level.

Meeting summary for August 30, 2018

On August 30, the Minister's Working Group on Gender Equity in Sport (the Working Group) had its second in-person meeting to discuss initiatives, strategies and actions that would help eliminate gender-based violence (GBV) in sport, with a focus on possible avenues of action for the Government of Canada.

The meeting consisted of the following sessions:

  • A review of the Working Group's mandate and desired outcomes;
  • Information sessions on GBV in Canada provided by two expert academic guests, Dr. Gretchen Kerr and Dr. Sandra Kirby; the scope of the Government of Canada's action on GBV provided by a representative of Status of Women Canada; and a presentation on Sport Canada's jurisdiction in addressing GBV;
  • A panel discussion on existing work and initiatives being undertaken by various organizations, including:
    • B2ten;
    • Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC);
    • Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES);
    • Sport'AIDE;
    • Canadian Centre for Child Protection (CCP);
    • Coaching Association of Canada (CAC);
    • Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS); and,
    • Respect Group Inc.
  • A presentation on building recommendations that will eliminate GBV in sport; and,
  • Breakout groups which sought to develop concrete actions for the legislative, Government of Canada, Federal-Provincial/Territorial and Community levels.

The Working Group was particularly interested in a number of areas, including:

  • Education for members of National Sport Organizations (NSOs) and Multisport Service Organizations (MSOs) board of directors, athletes, coaches and parents;
  • A dual approach that includes both top down measures as well as engaging in grassroots capacity building, development and support; and,
  • Obtaining better data on the prevalence and nature of GBV in sport.

The Working Group also suggested that centralized and standardized approaches and policies are the best way to ensure that all Canadians experience sport in a safe and welcoming way. While centralized mechanisms are under development, interim reporting mechanisms will need to be in place.

Breakout sessions

During the breakout sessions, the Working Group was divided into three subgroups and all three were asked to provide "actions that would reduce gender-based violence."

For Sport Canada

Brainstorming on potential short-term actions
  1. Provide details to NSOs and MSOs on how to implement the requirements of ministerial announcement on harassment, abuse and discrimination in sport made on June 19, 2018.
    • Get this information out quickly, using both informal mechanisms for speed (email) and official mechanisms to demonstrate importance (signed letter). This information should be public, with clear expectations for NSO and MSO boards of directors and administration leaders.
    • Follow up with a sport caucus call or meeting to field questions and build support.
    • Sport Canada should play a leadership role.
  2. Integrate accountability and specific details in the report cards that will accompany the revised Sport Funding and Accountability Framework (SFAF) to ensure measures are tracked, evaluated, and that organizations are held accountable.
    • Require that organizations include gender equity in their strategic plans, with associated actions and timelines for achieving their goals.
    • Provide financial incentives for achieving goals and work on capacity building.
  3. Sport Canada should name a staff member who can be responsible for the development and implementation of all activities related to gender equity.
Brainstorming on potential long-term actions
  1. Provide funding to ensure training for staff and all sport organization board members is offered. This could accomplished through existing training modules (ex. Respect in Sport). Ideally, all organizations will have completed the training within two years.
  2. Identify or create an organization that could provide a third party review function.
    • Convene a small group of three-four people to look into the potential of creating a new organization or adding to the mandate of an existing body. Include options for areas of responsibilities such as education, training, investigation, case management and policy guidance. Include costs and a timeline for the organization development stages and actual establishment.

For the Federal-Provincial/Territorial Working Group

Brainstorming on potential short-term actions
  1. Establish a research chair for women and girls, with a focus on GBV.
    • Commit to developing baseline research, with a public report in one year for transparency, research process can be used to both gather data and educate all in one.
  2. Create awareness of GBV in sport, perhaps by designating a national day or adding a sport component to the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
  3. Interim reporting tools should be in place for athletes and other people who may be subject to GBV.
    • Every club/community centre should have a poster (beside the concussion protocol) that identifies who to call for help. It could be KidsHelpPhone or alternative specific to each jurisdiction (Sport'AIDE). Note that Hockey Canada has an existing relationship with KidsHelpPhone.
  4. Begin a national consultation on the Canadian Sport Act as it pertains to GBV, prepping early for future work on the legislation.
  5. Use the sport awards to raise profile of GBV (as ESPN did).
Brainstorming on potential long-term actions
  1. Open up the Act, perhaps following the example set by the process which resulted in the creation of the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada. In order to do this, Sport Canada could build momentum through:
    • A private members bill;
    • Storytelling – communicate the day-to-day GBV experiences of girls (rather than the big legal cases);
    • Build GBV into the next iteration of the Canadian Sport Policy;
    • Build linkages to the vulnerable sector; and,
    • Commit to a follow-up to the Standing Committee Report focused on GBV.

For community level

Establish the proper governance
  1. Identify what community sport should be: fun, value based sport experiences.
    • The policies need to be in place, and it is important not to make implementation too much of a burden on volunteers, while still ensuring acceptable behavior from all stakeholders and providing information on what it means to be in a safe space.
  2. A pan-Canadian approach would allow for the centralization of actions which is not present at this time. A centralized agency could provide codes of conduct, best practices and be given powers of investigation that could act consistently across jurisdictions.
Brainstorming on potential short-term actions
  1. If leadership is diverse, therefore community groups should be encouraged to recruit from underrepresented groups.
  2. The Government of Canada should use its bilateral agreements with provinces/territories to downstream information on creating safe sport experiences at lower levels.
  3. Seek out more non-traditional partners, like community centres:
    • Fund pilot projects that allow for testing before scaling nationally. We must identify what makes sport experiences fun and fulfilling for women and girls so that we can offer great programs that women and girls will want to participate in.
Brainstorming on potential long-term actions
  1. Provide an easy reporting mechanism and tools for managing both incidents and formal complaints correctly from beginning to end.
    • Provide information to volunteers who may not really know about the needs of the group they are serving. Some issues could be prevented by implementing policies like, "The rule of two" which requires that there always be two screened National Coaching Certified Program coaches with an athlete, especially a minor athlete, when in a vulnerable situation.
  2. Look into creating a pan-Canadian social media movement promoting images of strong and happy women and girls of all levels and abilities who feel safe. The United Kingdom's "This Girl Can" movement could stand as a model.
  3. GBV is a big part of drop out; research should look at what can be done to prevent or eliminate this.
  4. Provide education about appropriate and inappropriate behavior.

Other suggestions that were made throughout the day:

  • We could offer mental health care support for national team athletes up to ten years after carding.
  • Coach training programs at universities – universities with women studies programs and kinetics programs should develop women in coaching programs.
  • The community-level should focus efforts – provide full time permanent coaching positions so truly great coaches can make a career of what they are doing and provide great opportunities in the community.
  • Do a better job at engaging Indigenous athletes – Canada's national team has very few Indigenous athletes, whereas New Zealand and Australia have succeeded in engaging much higher rates in their programs.
  • CAAWS would make sense as a recipient of some of the $30 million of funding – they serve 50 percent of the population but their funding from Sport Canada is not reflective of their mandate, mission and accomplishments.
  • Find opportunities for the Minister to speak internationally on these issues in an effort to encourage other sport jurisdictions to move on these issues (perhaps UNESCO, European Union or other United Nations bodies).

Meeting summary for November 22-23, 2018

On November 22 and 23, 2018, the Minister's Working Group on Gender Equity in Sport (the Working Group) had its third and last in-person meeting to discuss initiatives, strategies and actions that would help increase the number of women in leadership positions, foster innovation and develop research opportunities. The meeting consisted of the following sessions:

  • An update of the Working Group's since the last meeting;
  • Information sessions on the situation of women leaders, which included coaches, officials and administrators, by an expert academic guest, Dr. Nicole LaVoi;
  • A presentation on Sport Canada's Funding Framework;
  • Breakout groups which sought to develop concrete actions for coaches, officials and administrators;
  • A presentation on Pol.Is, an innovative survey that was recently conducted by Sport Canada to evaluate Canadians' attitudes towards sport;
  • A review of innovative programs and initiatives that are currently seeing results in the United States and in Canada; and,
  • A discussion on how to improve Canada's ability to collect disaggregated data.

The Working Group was particularly interested in a number of areas, including:

  • The creation of a women and girls research hub that would serve a coordination role for the work of key players. The research hub would act as an observatory and think tank, and ensure information is mobilized and shared effectively to all partners and practitioners;
  • The importance for Sport Canada's Funding Framework to set targets for sport organizations to be held accountable. The need for clearer performance measures was also highlighted; and,
  • The possibility of impacting and changing the culture through a national marketing campaign.

Breakout sessions – November 22, 2018

During the breakout sessions, the Working Group discussed recommended actions for the three sub-groups: 1) coaches; 2) officials; and 3) administrators. Guylaine Demers presented data from Sport Canada's "Gender Equity in the Canadian Sport System: Graphs and Observations".

  • Data shows that the numbers of women/girls as coaches, officials and administrators are low and continuing to decline.
  • National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP): More women are taking coaching courses and getting certified, but the data does not show if they are actually coaching, or if they are assistant coaches only.
  • USport: Only 32% of women's teams have female head coaches, and 49% of assistant coaches are women. Only 1% of men's team coaches are women.
  • Officials:
    • There are more women coaching and officiating on the para side. Not surprising since para sport was not as high profile as able body sport in the past.
    • It is difficult to retain female officials. The turnover is high because they are an easy target for parents and other officials. It is not a welcoming environment. Girls see women being treated negatively so they don't want to get involved. In addition, the best time slots and best pay often go to the males.
  • Sport leaders: National Multisport Service Organizations (MSOs) are led by women in Canada. This is not the case for National Sport Organizations (NSOs).

Possible actions/recommendations for each category were discussed with the goal to come up with the top three actions for each category. Discussions included the following.

  • Insert targets into Sport Canada's funding framework and into the hiring process of sport organizations. Unless you have quotas, education and compliance, it isn't going to work.
  • Examine how targets work in other fields, e.g. medical, STEM. Some sport boards already have a quota.
  • Need to have quotas of some sort or we will have same issues in 10 years. Quotas are a low cost solution.
  • Use of the NFL's "Rooney rule". When a position opens, there has to be a member of the underrepresented group(s) (e.g. race, gender) on that short list. For a 3 member short list, at least one must be an underrepresented gender. That could be a requirement of Sport Canada funding to a sport organization.
  • Change the culture to where a sport system without diversity and equity and a supportive environ is not an excellent system. Adjust the meaning of excellence which includes the need to create a certain type of environment (a safe and welcoming environment for all).
  • Need to have tools (e.g. directories of pools of women) if sport organizations are going to be required to have women on boards.
  • Importance of gender based training for all search committees hiring. Need to reach out and identify non mainstream candidates, and check biases via training. Unless you provide training and programs, gender equity is not going to happen.
  • A national marketing campaign is critical. (e.g. Sport England, This Girl Can)
    • Initiate a marketing strategy ahead of other changes. This will help get buy-in with the changes. Communicate "the sport we want". The target would be all Canadians. Address the challenge of changing the culture.
    • Create a video with women leaders to encourage other women to see themselves in leadership positions.
    • Explore why we should have more women in sport at all levels. There is strong research outside sport to show how everyone benefits with this in place.
    • Ensure that sport research gets out to the sport community in easy-to-understand products, on a regular basis.
    • Celebrate the success stories in sport through a report card using easy-to-understand data. The system needs to be more educated.
    • Ensure that we are reaching Canadians that we aren't reaching now (the non-sport population). Ensure that we reach the small sport communities.
  • Move towards 50/50 nominating committees. See research in STEM field about changing male dominated committees.
  • Encourage USport athletics to become engaged in sport boards upon retirement as high performance athletes.
  • Conduct exit interviews to understand why women/girls are leaving sport (as coaches, officials, etc.).
  • Measure positive impact and retention of coaches, officials, and administrators.
  • Reach out to non-traditional groups that we don't normally talk to (e.g. Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRA)).
  • There is a need for more targeted conversations with different sports. This would increase the penetration into different sports and communities.
  • Increase funding to Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) since they already have the structure in place, and they are recognized nationally and as a world leader. For instance, their programs could go to a wider audience. With more money they could work more intensely with organizations and be in regular conversations with sport organizations to influence change.

Presentations and plenary discussions – November 23, 2018

Review of innovative programs and initiatives that are currently seeing results in the United States and in Canada.

  • Dr. LaVoi presented the work of the Tucker Centre and its mission;
  • The success of Tucker Centre resides in the mandate to use data to tell a story and create social change;
  • It was suggested that any recommendations based on report cards should be matched by tool kits and best practices.
  • There was an important discussion about the distinct roles of objective research vs. advocacy, and the risks involved in doing both simultaneously.
  • Main themes were: maintaining integrity and objectivity of data; strong narrative and story-telling; distinct role of advocacy; importance of tool kits and knowledge translation for practitioners; recognition of the indigenous experience.

Research hub

  • There was a discussion of the role of a potential women and girls research "hub" that would serve a coordination role for the work of key players, including:
    • Sport Canada Research Initiative (SCRI)
    • Universities
    • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) 
    • Sport Information Resource Centre (SIRC)
    • Canadian Fitness & Lifestyle Research Institute (CFLRI)
    • Sport Canada
    • Statistics Canada
    • Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS)

The research hub would serve as an observatory and think tank and ensure information is mobilized and shared effectively;

  • The notion of a centralized reporting tool was raised to assess/audit the state of equity on boards, and among coaching positions and participation;
  • Underrepresented groups would be a strong focus of the hub;
  • It was noted that the system currently lacked an ombudsperson role;
  • It was noted that graduate students and researchers should be better incentivized to pursue program evaluations and design projects, recognizing that for professional academics, only peer-reviewed journal publications count toward tenure and professional recognition;
  • There is currently no obvious stakeholder responsible for knowledge transfer and tool kits, or training and implementation. Opportunities for impact exist in these areas.

Leadership

  • Recommendations for action included:
    • Enforcing board and coaching position quotas via financial consequences;
    • Public accountability and scorecards;
    • A women in sport ombudsperson;
    • Financial investments in coaching development, recruitment, training, apprenticeships;
    • development of a 'pipeline' and pool of qualified female coaches;
    • Education for organizations on proactive recruitment and anti-bias training for selectors;
    • Mentorship programs;
    • Training for high performance technical directors;
    • National coaching and leadership school/institute for women to train and grow networks;
    • Regional workshops and annual conferences;
    • Equity audits;
    • National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) monitoring of behaviour of coaches on the field;
    • Support and guidance tool kits;
    • NCCP integration of a "coaching female athletes" module (Quebec currently has three workshops that can serve as a best practice) – either as 'gold seal' or NCCP requirement;
    • Ensuring the coaches teaching the coaches and the officials teaching the officials are properly trained with gender lens;
    • Change the social narrative in sport; and,
    • Marketing, advertising inspired by This Girl Can (example: "This Girl Can Play/ Coach").
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