Curling diversity in the spotlight
Curling Canada working to broaden diversity and inclusion initiatives
Ongoing efforts to make everyone feel welcome and engaged in curling centres across the country will produce some significant initiatives that will benefit the sport.
While progress has been made in the areas of diversity and inclusion in curling in recent years, there is much work to be done, according to Chief Executive Officer Katherine Henderson.
“Over the past 12 months, all sports organizations have been learning some hard truths about where we stand on the topic of diversity, and how much we still need to do,” said Henderson. “It’s been in equal parts unsettling and encouraging; we’ve listened to so many voices about the issues that need to be addressed, and it wasn’t easy to hear those voices. We were challenged, and justifiably so. And yet what also gave us energy was that people want curling to be a leader in this area, and they want us to succeed because they see so many benefits in our sport, both from a participation standpoint as well as a community-building standpoint. We’re excited about the opportunities that are in front of us, and we’ll be working extremely hard to take those steps with all who join us.”
A significant outcome of the consultation process with curlers from all backgrounds across Canada will be launched on Sunday in recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Curling Canada will release the “Curling is a Place for Everyone” Digital Resource Kit to support curling facilities in creating meaningful change towards greater diversity and inclusivity in the sport of curling.
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Put together with support from the World Curling Federation Development Assistance Programme, the kit gives the Canadian curling community a chance to extend our love of curling to newcomers through participation, volunteering, and becoming fans. An individual’s journey into curling begins with community facilities. Beginning with small steps in the right direction, we at the community facility level and Curling Canada as a whole, can welcome a wider demographic into our house.
The kit will encourage curling centres to examine any potential barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion that may be in place, consciously or unconsciously, and offers suggestions on how to remove those barriers, with the understanding that each community is different and a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work for everyone.
Many rounds of consultation with industry experts and curling centre managers took place in preparing the kit.
“We want to continue working with our Member Associations to support grassroots curling facilities across the country,” said Henderson. “While this is a significant step in the process, it’s still just a step as we work, and listen, with the ambition of making curling a sport of choice for Canadians from all cultural backgrounds.”
As part of the consultation process leading up to the release of the digital resource kit, Curling Canada has created a Diversity and Inclusion consultation panel that includes curlers from a cross-section of backgrounds across Canada.
Additionally, Curling Canada staff members have undergone Diversity and Inclusion training, and a third-party baseline audit of the existing diversity of Curling Canada’s Board of Governors, staff, contractors and suppliers was undertaken in the late fall. This baseline will help us measure our progress as an organization.
“Curling is a core part of the Canadian culture, landscape and history and we have an opportunity to welcome ALL Canadians to the sport that we love, by providing a more inclusive experience to newcomers to our game,” said Chana Martineau, the Curling Canada Board of Governors liaison to the Diversity and Inclusion consultation panel. “Work needs to be done at all levels in our sport and this step is definitely a move in the direction that we want to go.”
On the horizon is an academic symposium, tentatively scheduled for September, that will be called Changing the Face of Curling. Curling Canada will partner with Dr. Heather Mair at the University of Waterloo to put on the symposium.
At the grassroots level, ongoing work in the area of diversity includes Curling Canada’s support of the Egg Farmers Rocks & Rings program, which brings floor curling to school gymnasiums across the country and connects with school-age kids from all backgrounds and cultures.