Rising leader!

Andrew Paris (left) works one on one with a student
Andrew Paris (left) works one on one with a student

Nova Scotia’s Andrew Paris selected for the COC’s 2021 Emerging Leader Development program

If you’re familiar with curling in Canada’s maritime provinces, you’ve probably heard the name Andrew Paris before.

A headshot of Andrew Paris.
Andrew Paris – photo courtesy of Andrew Paris

And if you haven’t? You certainly will soon. Paris is a rising leader in the sport of curling; not always for his feats on the ice, but for his work in the community that extends well beyond his home province of Nova Scotia. Paris is a self-described husband and father of two who has always had a passion for curling and the recreation sector. 

Through his passion for the sport, Paris has translated his skills into roles at the Dartmouth Curling Club (2013-2017) as the Junior Program Director and Technical Director and Provincial Coach for Nova Scotia Curling (2017-2020).

“Curling has always been part of life,” said Paris. “My mother would tell me stories of how I would roll soup cans at a target on the floor as a toddler. I began curling at the age of eight and have been curling ever since (25+ years) minus a couple of years I took off to focus on college.”

And through his lifelong devotion to curling, Paris has earned another substantial accolade.

Paris has been selected to be part of the Canadian Olympic Committee’s 2021 Emerging Leader Development program.

The program’s goal is to enhance the governance of National Sport Organizations and strengthen the talent and leadership of those who identify as Black, Indigenous or a Person of Colour (BIPOC) by building bench strength to reinforce the pipeline of talent in each respective NSO’s system. Understanding that systemic racism and prejudice exists in Canada for Women, the 2SLGBTQ+ community and Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) as they are frequently faced with overt acts of racism and aggression. Through the program, the COC is acknowledging its role in the system and its own failures and our responsibility to take action to end racism. The program allows the Canadian Olympic Committee to engage in activities to support action to end racism and create a safer and more inclusive sport environment, through advocacy, empowerment and education. 

An instructional session with Andrew Paris and keen students - Photo care of Andrew Paris
An instructional session with Andrew Paris and keen students – Photo courtesy of Andrew Paris

Many NSOs face challenges with funding, capacity and resources, and with staff development being a low priority which can result in higher staff turnover. Through the 2021 Emerging Leader Development program, the COC seeks to provide support to NSOs in this space; to provide professional development, while increasing the diversity in sport leadership in Canada. 

While remaining aligned with the aforementioned goals, the core of the program itself consists of learn-from-a-leader gatherings, peer-to-peer learning, mentoring, professional development opportunities, assessment and learning objectives and other monthly communications with members of the program.

Paris is relishing the opportunity to participate in the program as it is another stepping stone in his goal to make curling a more inclusive sport.

“I’m so thankful for this opportunity,” said an elated Paris. “I’ve spent years trying to make our sport more diverse and it’s an honour to be recognized for that work by being selected to take part in the program. I’m looking forward to not only learning from a fantastic organization in the Canadian Olympic Committee but also sharing stories and learning from other BIPOC individuals working in the sport sector.”

Participation in the 2021 Emerging Leader Development program is only a small portion of Paris’ contribution to curling for BIPOC communities. Most recently, Paris has founded a not for profit called the Black Rock Initiative. The goal of the work is to introduce BIPOC youth to curling while also providing curling clubs with the support and tools necessary to be a welcoming and diverse resource to their entire community. 

The Desmond broom, designed by Andrew Paris as part of Goldline’s UnitedWeCurl initiative
The Desmond broom, designed by Andrew Paris as part of Goldline’s UnitedWeCurl initiative

Paris has also partnered with Goldline Curling to create a curling broom called The Desmond as part of Goldline’s UnitedWeCurl initiative. 

“The Desmond was designed to tell the story of the Black community in Canada and create a conversation in Curling clubs that will lead to changing the face of our great sport,” said Paris.

Ever selfless, Paris remains focused on benefiting the sport of curling overall through every aspect of his community work. 

“My hope is that the sport of curling will benefit far more from my participation in the 2021 Emerging Leader Development program than I will,” said Paris. “That’s why I’m so pumped to take part in the program. I believe that most curlers in this country want to see our sport become more diverse. I truly believe that my participation in this program along with the work that has already started and is yet to come at the Black Rock Initiative and Curling Canada will eventually lead to creating more opportunities for the BIPOC community in our great sport.”

As Paris remains a leader for BIPOC communities in sport, he reflects upon the importance of his work and the impact his contributions have made on his family, his community and the sport of curling as a whole.

“I’m so proud to have played a part in introducing curling to hundreds of youth and adults over the years, including my own wife and kids,” said Paris. “I really enjoy watching how they’ve progressed along from where they started. I’m also proud and honoured to have played a small part in the development of the high-performance junior curlers who’ve come out of this province over the last few years. Regardless of their successes, to watch how they’ve grown into great young ladies and men has been an amazing experience.”

In a sport that has been missing BIPOC representation for many decades, Paris is a pioneer in curling. His work remains an important aspect of the sport’s maturation process as we, as a community, strive to catch up to Canada’s ever evolving demographics. Ultimately, promoting the voices of BIPOC curlers will allow curling to be a more viable sport option for every Canadian. And with much work still left to do, curling’s community can continue to look to leaders like Andrew Paris to guide our path in growing the sport for all Canadians.

Curling Canada