December 8, 2021
The 44th Canadian Sport Awards have been rebranded to focus more closely on trailblazers, athlete-centred accomplishments and initiatives – with the ultimate goal to unite, amplify and celebrate the leadership and voices of Canada’s national team athletes.
Following an exciting return to sport over the course of 2021, AthletesCAN will unveil the finalists for each award from Dec. 7-14, culminating in live virtual broadcast announcing the winners on Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT on AthletesCAN’s digital channels.
AthletesCAN Social Responsibility Award
This award honours a current or retired national team athlete who used their platform to make a positive impact in their sport or community at the local, national, or international level. This award recognizes the significant contributions of an athlete leader in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, community, volunteer and/or social change initiatives.
Two-time Olympian Mandy Bujold won a landmark and precedent-setting case against the International Olympic Committee for withholding her Tokyo 2020 Olympic-qualification rights. Bujold, who ranked No. 8 in the world prior to becoming a new mother in November 2018, was successful in her battle for gender equity – asserting the revised selection period for competition results fell during her maternity leave and that she should be assessed on her prior performances and be allowed to compete.
Three-time Olympian Kim Gaucher became an advocate for nursing mothers, challenging the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee’s COVID protocols that originally planned to prohibit athletes from travelling with their families to the Games in order to reduce virus transmission. With the policy changed in time for the Olympics, Gaucher was able to bring her newborn daughter instead of forfeiting her Olympic dream.
Inspired by 14-year old runner Jesse Briscoe of Montreal, two-time Olympian Andre de Grasse launched the RACE WITH ME virtual challenge in May. Named after De Grasse’s recently released motivational picture book, the event served as an invitation to children and youth across Canada to join the race to get active after a year of restrictions and to combat the devastating impact of COVID-19 on physical and mental health. For eight weeks, Canadian kids were encouraged to find a way to race a 400m distance, record their times and video, and upload the content to an interactive website for a chance at prizing. Throughout the challenge, De Grasse and his teammates also provided tips and words of encouragement to participants through social media.
Two-time Olympian Stephanie Labbé continues to break down barriers for LGBTQI2S+ inclusion in sport. Motivated by her fiancée Olympic cyclist Georgia Simmerling since first meeting at the Rio 2016 Games, Labbé proudly speaks of her authentic true self as a gay athlete in sport, helping create safe spaces for the Pride community. The work of Labbé and others has also been backed by the creation of a LGBTQI2S+ Sport Inclusion Task Force and a new Sport Inclusion website.