December 15, 2021
TORONTO – AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes, unveiled Wednesday the winners of the 44th Canadian Sport Awards.
Boxer Mandy Bujold was honoured with the AthletesCAN Social Responsibility Award, race walker Evan Dunfee took home the True Sport Award, rugby player Karen Paquin received the #AthleteVoice Award for Rep of the Year and freestyle skier Jennifer Heil was named the winner of the Bruce Kidd Leadership Award. In addition, the Canadian women’s soccer team’s triumph at the Tokyo Olympics was crowned with the People’s Choice Award for Most Viral Moment of the Year.
The winners were revealed in a live virtual broadcast on AthletesCAN’s digital channels, capping off a historic national campaign celebrating this year’s finalists held from Dec. 7-14.
As part of a restructuring that began last year with the retirement of performance-based recognitions, the CSAs 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 our members.
For the CSA recipient history, dating back to the creation of the event in 1972, click here.
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.
Dunfee won the bronze medal in the 50 km racewalk at the Tokyo 2020 Games, in what proved to be a moment of redemption. The two-time Olympian demonstrated true sportsmanship four years earlier in Rio, when he elected not to protest his fourth-place finish, after being bumped off stride by the eventual bronze medalist from Japan – who was initially disqualified, then later reinstated – in the closing stages of the race. Choosing to maintain his integrity and accept the decision, Dunfee was rewarded in July with his own come-from-behind triumph this past summer, capturing Canada’s first Olympic race walking medal in nearly three decades.
Paquin and the national women’s rugby sevens team made a statement prior to opening competition at Tokyo 2020. The two-time Olympian led her teammates in speaking out on important issues before beginning their quest for a medal, including reporting on an unsafe environment under their former coach, advocating for racial equality, social justice and reconciliation with Canada’s Black, Indigenous and People of Colour communities.
Heil called on the Canadian government to address safe sport gaps in the Canadian sport system. The three-time Olympian and fellow Canadian national team athletes wrote a letter to the Minister of Heritage, addressing the need for improved protection for victims who come forward and the changes needed to better protect them. On top of this, Heil has served as a ambassador to the Canada Games activity challenge that is providing schools with resources to help students build foundational physical skills early on fostering a life-long love for sport in the next generation.
Julia Grosso scored the winning goal as Canada defeated Sweden 3-2 on penalty kicks for its first-ever Olympic gold in women’s soccer. The Olympic triumph came after back-to-back bronze medals at London 2012 and Rio 2016.
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.
For more information, please contact:
Manager, Communications & Sport Partnerships
Phone: 613-526-4025 Ext. 224