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Board of Directors nomination and election period launched ahead of 2022 AthletesCAN AGM

2022-23 Board of Directors Nominees

TORONTO – AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes, is pleased to launch the nomination and election campaign period for the 2022-23 Board of Directors.

The Board nomination period opened on Oct. 15 coinciding with the AthletesCAN Forum, with three director positions of three-year terms available. All interested candidates shall provide the completed nomination form in the language of their choice and a photo to info@athletescan.ca by Oct. 28 at 5:00 p.m. ET / 2:00 p.m. PT. Candidates should review the organization’s strategic plan and Director Job Description to fully understand the prospective role.

The opening of the nomination period comes as AthletesCAN has also begun preparations for the upcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM), slated for Saturday, Nov. 19 from 12:00-1:30 p.m. ET / 9:00-10:30 a.m. PT. Members of AthletesCAN as of October 31, 2022 shall be entitled to one vote at the meeting, while new members who register in the period of Nov. 1- 19, 2022 shall not be eligible to attend or vote at the AGM. To register for the AGM, click here.

2022-23 AthletesCAN Board of Directors Candidates

Cynthia Appiah
(She/Her)

Bobsleigh

Active Athlete

York University

Introduction

I’ve been a member of the Canadian bobsleigh team since 2015 and have gone to two Winter Olympic Games – 2018 as an alternate brakewoman and 2022 as a pilot, finishing in eighth place in both of my disciplines. I speak English and Twi fluent and while I can read French decently well, I would categorize my spoken proficiency as rudimentary at best.

I wish to run for a position on the AthletesCAN Board of Directors because I have seen first hand the importance of advocating and elevating the athlete’s voice within the Canadian sport system. This year has demonstrated that the sport system is broken and in badly need of repair. I  seek to bring my experiences from bobsleigh to the forefront and bring a unique prospective to the discussion table.

More importantly, I represent a small and unfortunately overshadowed demographic within the Canadian sport system but especially in the winter sphere: Black athletes. I have sat as a spectator in too many rooms where the need for inclusive perspectives passes over the experiences of Black voices, simply because representatives are not present in the room.  I hope to be symbolize the intersectionality that is needed to bring about the change within Canadian sport.

Experience

I currently sit as an athlete representative of the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada’s (SDRCC) Athlete Advisory Committee for the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport (UCCMS). This past spring, I became one of the more vocal athletes demanding change within the Canadian sport system, specifically to bobsleigh and skeleton.

Skills

I bring a unique perspective to issues that many would not think to see at first glance.  I tend to have an outside-of-the-box approach to discussion points.  Being a current athlete, I can be a bridge to see if legislation is effective enough in real time.

Priorities

My main priority is to continue to fight for all athletes to be part of the decision making process within their respective national sport organization. This would entail advocating to the Federal Minister of Sport, as well as their provincial and territorial counterparts to enact policies that specify athletes being involved at the Board level of their respective sport.  There would be checkpoints in place to ensure that this would be an active and engaging role for the athletes and not merely a box to check for the NSO.

My second priority would be to advocate for better racial sensitivity training.  Having sat in many presentations myself, the way racial discrimination is taught within Canada is very surface level and does little to actually teach the harm that racialized athletes are put through.

Chris de Sousa Costa
(He/Him)

Karate (Kumite)

Retired Athlete (Less than eight years)

BA (Hons), Communications Studies, York University

Graduate Diploma in Business; MBA Candidate (2023), Queen’s University

CEO, Queen’s University Alternative Assets Fund

Introduction

I was a member of the Karate Canada National Team from 2004 – 2015 and was the Athlete Representative on the Karate Canada Board from 2010-2020. I live in Toronto, Ont., with my wife and 19-month-old son. I am currently an MBA candidate from the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University, with a specialization in innovation and entrepreneurship. I am also the Chief Executive Officer of the Queen’s University Alternative Assets Fund, the first student-led alternative assets fund in Canada, with over $600,000 in assets under management. Before the MBA, I spent three years at the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurer, providing risk transfer solutions for private and non-profit entities across various industries for their management liability needs.

I wish to run for the AthletesCAN Board of Directors as AthletesCAN has been an instrumental part of my athletic career in providing athletes within my NSO the tools and resources needed to ensure the athlete voice is taken seriously across the various stakeholder parties and with my experience, I want to give back to the next generation of Canadian sport leaders.

Experience

During my time as Athlete Representative, I successfully negotiated terms of a bilateral national team contract on behalf of over 100 athletes to ensure enforcement of athlete rights, which was used as a template for athlete rights over the last eight years according to the NSO mandate. I also collaborated with my fellow Board members to ensure the organization adhered to its annual budget and long-term strategic plans to take karate in Canada from a small combat sport to an Olympic breakout sport.

I created the Terms of Reference with full Board approval to create Karate Canada’s first-ever Athlete Council, which I led as Chair until the end of my final Athlete Representative Term. The inaugural Athlete Council included diverse representation from both mainstream and para athletes, an equal male/female split, an equal English/French split, and representation from both major disciplines.

I also had the privilege of being the High-Performance Athlete Representative for Karate Canada, and before the expiration of my term, I worked closely with the High-Performance Director to develop Karate Canada’s internal nomination procedure to select athletes for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in which Karate was making its Olympic debut. This involved various revisions of the internal nomination procedure as we navigated constant delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Once my term was over, I was brought back onto the High-Performance Committee as an advisor to continue the work needed to make sure Karate Canada was sending its best athletes to qualification events in a manner that was fair and equitable.

I was also very fortunate to hold the position of Play-by-Play analyst for Karate’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games debut with the CBC. Being able to call the action live for Canadians coast-to-coast was an invaluable experience in communication and storytelling that will lend itself well to a Board position with AthletesCAN. I can communicate in a manner that will resonate with fellow athletes across the country across all sports.

As the current CEO of the Queen’s University Alternative Assets Fund, I oversee multiple teams in successfully executing their various strategic objectives to drive a positive return on investment for the fund while providing educational and networking opportunities for aspiring finance professionals at the graduate level. This role requires strong leadership, stakeholder management, and fiscal responsibility, which I plan to bring to a directorship role with AthletesCAN.

Skills

I have extensive experience in risk analysis, including financial analysis for private and non-profit entities, employment practice risk mitigation strategies, governance and liability analysis for directors and officers and shareholders, and strategy and negotiation experience with internal and external partners inside and outside of sport.

My past role analyzed risk for private and non-profit entities (including NSOs), which would be valuable in helping AtheletsCAN members navigate their most pressing governance and operational issues with their respective NSOs. My goal is to collaborate and create a win-win situation for all parties involved while keeping the athlete voice at the centre of the discussion.

As a former Karate Canada Athlete Representative for nearly a decade, I have seen functional Boards that collaborate with athletes and other committees, and I have seen dysfunctional Boards that put self-interest and politics above the athlete voice. I have also been part of Boards that are more organizational in nature and others that have been governance-focused, and this experience across the spectrum of Boards at the NSO level will bring tremendous value to members who need advice or help to take the next step in their athlete representative role.

My MBA-level education has also allowed me to use different frameworks and strategies to achieve strategic objectives for short and long-term goals, including working with clients to help them solve their most pressing business opportunities. My educational background would provide immediate value to AthletesCAN in helping to execute their strategic plan.

Priorities

Identify what the key priorities are for both summer and winter Canadian athletes in a post-pandemic world, including:

1) A return to an in-person AthletesCAN Forum, starting in 2023;

2) Ensuring athletes are aware of and understand their NSO’s bylaws and governing documents so they are equipped with the knowledge to bring positive change where needed to the athlete experience effectively;

3) Ensuring that AthletesCAN continues to provide the best resources available to athletes inclusively and holistically that incorporate mental health services, safe sport support, while navigating the Athlete Representative / NSO relationship; and

4) Ensuring that AthletesCAN leverages technology and data analytics to identify the most pressing challenges our members currently face to forecast long-term opportunities to improve the Canadian sport system intelligently.

Bianca Farella
(She/Her)

Rugby 7s

Active Athlete

B.Sc. Social Sciences

University of Victoria

Introduction

I have been a long withstanding member of the Canadian Women’s Rugby 7’s team since 2012. I am from Montreal, Que., and have been living in Victoria, B.C., where our rugby program is centralized full-time. I speak English and French, but my French is at a limited proficiency since living in a primarily English-speaking part of Canada. I have had much success over my 10 years as a high-performance athlete, including a silver medal at the 2013 Rugby World Cup and a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games. Those successes have been part of my journey as a decorated athlete, but the proudest moment of my career was putting forth a complaint against our former head coach who we, as a team, felt was violating our NSO’s Anti-Harassment & Bullying Policy. The insufficiently-structured process our team underwent after filing our complaint changed how I view the sporting system in Canada. Our experience has enlightened me to bring issue and awareness to how unfortunately normalized it had been to undergo psychological abuse in sport in Canada. I wish to be part of that change by becoming a member of the Board at AthletesCAN. 

Experience

I have been a volunteer with KidSport since 2015. I have been tasked with running rugby coaching clinics for youth athletes, as well as participated in the Thrifty Food’s Kids’ Run to ensure the event runs smoothly. Children enjoy meeting athletes and seeing our medals. Most importantly it is important for youths to know their potential in this world, and it can start with sport.

I have been part of the Canada Women’s 7s Leadership Group since 2016, where I have been tasked with organizing on-field tactics, opposition analytics, and conflict resolution within our team. I have had to deliver difficult news and truths to teammates and staff in a respectful, but firm manner. I would describe myself as having a clear and direction communication style and would consider it a strength as a leader. I have given presentations on game plans, and structures as well as held important team culture meetings, which were pivotal after our team submitted our formal complaint.

Skills

I am a quick-learner, self-starter, and most importantly and fantastic team player. My strengths include my direct communication style, my ability and willingness to connect with others, and my growth-mindset. My experience within my NSO has given me a breadth of knowledge of the ins and outs of our NSO, but I have so much to learn about how our sporting systems operations nationally. As well, I am not afraid to say, “I don’t know,” and “I need help,” and I believe those are important qualities in being a good leader and board member.

Priorities

 

My priority would have the centre focus of safe sport. Besides financial struggles, it is clear that over the last two years Canadian athletes have been asking for help by Sport Canada and their National Sport Organizations because they do not feel safe in their daily training environments. I would hope we can implement, improve, and update each NSO’s Anti-Harassment and Bullying Policy, and be able to improve the current safe sport anonymous hotline by implementing full-time employees to handle each anonymous claim. There has been significant change over the last two years, but I believe there is much more room for growth, especially since there are often a lot of young people becoming high-performers in high-pressure environments, and they should be equipped with the tools to recognize a safe environment.

Greg Stewart
(He/Him)

Para Athletics (F46 Shot Put)

Retired Athlete (less than eight years)

BBA – Majoring in Human Resources

Working in Wholesale Sales – Metal Recycling Industry

Introduction

I was born missing my left arm below the elbow, and I am 7-foot-2. My most recent competition was the Tokyo 2020 Summer Paralympic Games where I won gold. I speak English and was born and raised in B.C.. My father was in the RCMP for 30 years and in that time, I lived in almost every corner of the province. I now call Kamloops home.

I wish to run for the AthletesCAN Board of Directors because I want to give a voice to athletes and support their needs in their journey in sport. Many of us are aware that being a Canadian athlete has its challenges and being part of the AthletesCAN Board is one way I see myself supporting them through those challenges along the way.

Experience

I currently sit on the Athletics Canada (AC) Board of Directors, as an Athlete Representative. Athletics Canada has a membership of approximately 25,000 members. My role helps to support our members, and act as a liaison for them, giving them a voice when issues aeise I have been on the Board for 2.5 years

I have competed in sport for over 20 years and have been on three different national teams. I competed in both standing and seated volleyball for the Canadian nen’s national team, and the para athletics national team I also played five years of U SPORTS basketball for Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, while pursuing a degree in business. I am well versed in team and individual sport.

Skills

I have played and competed in able-bodied and para sport at a competitive level, both university and amateur. I am able to understand both perspectives of our athletes and can speak on behalf of both

I have 14 years of team sport experience and six years of individual sport experience. The team and individual competitor are two VERY different athletes. I understand and know what it takes as a team to be the best and the work a team requires to BE a team. I also understand the work it requires to be the best individual athlete. Again I am able to understand and speak on behalf of both kinds of athletes.

Mental health is extremely important for everyone. As someone who practices mindfulness and regularly receives counselling, I feel I can bring a more mindful perspective to the table. Our thoughts, emotions and feelings impact us daily, and understanding them can improve our lives tremendously

Priorities

My priorities would be to continue bringing integrity and trust to sport. There are many uneducated NSOs and unhealthy sport cultures in our country, and bringing athletes voices to the front will not only bring change, but bring understanding. When we come from a place of integrity we bring vulnerability, and with that, a voice to make change. Through this, we can create trust and build pathways to support our national team athletes.

My other priority will be to continue supporting athletes with their mental health. Whether it is group discussions or one-on-one conversations, or giving the resources for professional support, I will continue to help athletes move through difficulties in their sport journey.

Natasha Watcham-Roy
(She/Her)

Rugby 7s

Retired Athlete (Less than eight years)

Master of Arts in Leadership

Introduction

I grew up in Gatineau, Que., where I was raised in a bilingual household – French and English. I was recruited to represent the National Rugby 7s Team in 2015 and moved to Victoria, B.C., to pursue my dream of becoming an Olympian. I was selected for the Rio 2016 Olympic games, where our team won the bronze medal. At the end of the 2018 season, I left the game to pursue a more holistic life. Since leaving my sport, I have been passionate about improving athletes’ psychological safety within the sport system. I am eager to optimize the high-performance sport system in Canada and believe I can support AthletesCAN’s mission and vision and align with the organization’s values. The organization creates the pathway for an optimal experience for athletes, which motivates me to be a part of the Board of Directors to support change.

Experience

I have gained various experiences from my sports career, my pursued education, and working for lululemon. Firstly, being a Canadian Women’s Rugby 7s team member, I have attained a thorough understanding of the complexity of the sport systems and the implications of one’s National Sport Organization on an athlete’s experience and success. My experience as an athlete also informed me of the importance of athletes feeling safe within their environment and having the resources available to support them. It amplifies my desire to ensure all high-performance athletes are well-educated about their rights, have the opportunity to develop, and know the resources to support their success.

Upon retirement from my sport, I felt inspired to create organizational change. As a result, I pursued and completed a thesis focused on psychological safety in high-performance sport. I collaborated with Rugby Canada’s Women’s Rugby 7s team to gather their insight on the need for change within their organization and what would allow them to feel a sense of psychological safety within their environment. It expanded my knowledge of the conflicting elements within a sport system and how it impacts a National Sport Organization – ultimately, the athletes on the ground. In addition, I learned that athletes’ voices must be at the forefront of creating change and the steps necessary to ensure athletes feel heard and included in the change process. Completing my thesis has given me the knowledge and skills required to gather data in pursuit of organizational change, analyze the data and provide recommendations based on themes.

Lastly, my current role as the Sample Operations Coordinator at lululemon requires solid operational skills. I manage multiple conflicting priorities and projects daily. I am responsible for leading a team in sample management, forming meaningful relationships with cross-functional partners to improve processes, maintaining and implementing tools and resources, and ensuring the accurate representation and circulation of data. My role requires the following skills: strong attention to detail, collaboration, time management, relationship-building, and problem-solving skills. My experiences have prepared me to be a part of the Board of Directors.

Skills

I would offer AthletesCAN my strategic planning, operational, and collaborative skills, which would support members in acquiring resources that support their needs. My Master of Arts in Leadership has developed my skills in leading systemic change based on an organization’s challenges and needs. I have the skills to analyze, identify gaps, and provide recommendations from a large set of data collection. This would support AthletesCAN in understanding the needs of their members and ensure members’ voices are being fully represented in the change process. Additionally, I can support the development of leadership resources which athletes can access within the AthleteCAN platform.

Being a part of AthletesCAN’s Board of Directors would align with my skills, values and desire to make a difference within the high-performance sports culture. I am self-motivated and love to work with others toward a shared goal and vision.

Priorities

If I were to be elected to AthletesCAN’s Board of Directors, I would prioritize the strategic priority areas addressed in the Strategic Plan – awareness, insight, and activation. Firstly, I would prioritize the awareness of AthletesCAN’s services to athletes as there continues to be a gap in the athletes’ knowledge of resources available to support their success. Additionally, increasing awareness will help gather further insight from athletes that can identify focus areas for the organization and, in turn, create impactful change.

About AthletesCAN

AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes, is the only fully independent and most inclusive athlete organization in the country and the first organization of its kind in the world.  As the voice of Canadian national team athletes, AthletesCAN ensures an athlete-centered sport system by developing athlete leaders who influence sport policy and, as role models, inspire a strong sport culture. Follow us on social @AthletesCAN and Join #TheCollective today.

For more information, please contact:

Alan Hudes
Manager, Communications and Sport Partnerships
AthletesCAN
613-526-4025 Ext. 224
ahudes@athletescan.ca