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AthletesCAN launches “It’s Our Turn” athlete-centred marketing campaign

TORONTO – AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes, is proud to announce the launch of It’s Our Turn, a new athlete-centred marketing campaign, highlighting the importance of the athlete representation movement across the Canadian sport system.  

The new campaign focuses on the stories of athlete leaders across the 68 sports eligible for AthletesCAN membership. In particular, the campaign highlights a pivotal moment for a new era in sport governance, underlining the athlete representatives’ respective journeys into the athlete advocacy movement both in their careers and within their National Sport Organizations (NSOs).

"Athlete representation isn't just a matter of fairness; it's a catalyst for positive change. It ensures that the sport system evolves with the times, fostering a culture of inclusivity, fairness, and innovation, paving the way for policies that prioritize the well-being of athletes, and the sustained growth of the sports we love."

Erin Willson - AthletesCAN President and artistic swimming Olympian

The campaign is headlined by a promotional video launching today, with customized assets also built for each of the 68 NSOs. In addition, a new Athlete Rep Spotlight profile series is set to kick off, with teaser clips posted weekly to AthletesCAN’s digital channels alongside the full interviews on AthletesCAN.ca.

Each conversation features a national team athlete, who has either served as an informal or formalized NSO Athlete Representative, an official Athlete Director on their NSO’s Board or as a  member of an NSO or Multisport Organization Athlete Council / Committee. Production of the interview series is being supported by the AthletesCAN Creative Champions and the AthletesCAN Awareness Committee which is responsible for overseeing the organization’s membership, marketing, communications and partnership initiatives.

“‘It's Our Turn’ speaks to the athletes, urging them to step into roles that extend beyond the field of play. Their experiences, insights, and voices are not only valuable but essential. The decisions made at the highest levels should be informed by the authentic narratives of those who compete."

Susanne Wereley - Awareness Committee Chair, Olympic rowing champion and AthletesCAN Board Member

The campaign builds on a pair of recently-announced initiatives, including the ongoing National Team Athlete Town Halls in collaboration with the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network (COPSIN) and Minister Qualtrough’s launch of the Future of Sport in Canada Commission to address the history of systemic abuse in Canadian sport and its underlying causes. 

Canadian national team athletes are invited to register for the Town Halls to give feedback on their athlete experiences, with events remaining in Winnipeg (Feb. 27), Montreal (Mar. 12) and Calgary (Mar. 26). Full details are available here.

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 over 6,000 current and recently retired Canadian national team athletes, AthletesCAN membership spans 68 sports across the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan/Parapan American, and Commonwealth Games, and those currently funded by Sport Canada competing at Senior World Championships.

AthletesCAN ensures an athlete-centered sport system by developing athlete leaders who influence sport policy and, as role models, inspire a strong sport culture, through educational resources, support, training and professional development.  

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 

The SDRCC, OSIC, NSOs, PTSOs, Sport Solution Clinic, and You

By Tyler Rogerson (Case Manager), Isabella DiMenna (Caseworker), Nicholas Burton (Caseworker) ​​

The Sport Solution Blog is written by law students and is intended to provide information and the team’s perspectives on current issues. However, the Blog is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion. Athletes in need of assistance should contact the clinic directly at sportsolution@athletescan.ca

Key Takeaways​

  • Provides an overview of the different administrative bodies and stakeholders that govern and regulate national-level sports in Canada
  • Outlines the legal resources that are available to members of AthletesCAN

Canada’s National Team athletes are busy! Between training, competitions, recovery, and finding time to decompress, AthletesCAN members have demanding schedules. To make matters more complicated, Canadian athletes may be faced with legal challenges throughout their career. These issues may include disagreements over team selection, concerns regarding Athlete Assistance Program funding, Safe Sport disputes, and disagreements over disciplinary measures. 

This blog post will provide Canadian athletes with an overview of the various administrative bodies that govern and regulate high -performance sports in Canada and how they interact with one another. Ultimately, Canadian athletes should know that the Sport Solution Clinic at Western Law exists to provide all members of AthletesCAN with pro bono (free!) legal advice and representation and can assist them in the resolution of their sport-related legal issues.

SDRCC Logo / Logo du CRDSC

The Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC)

The SDRCC is created by the Physical Activity and Sport Act,1 and provides alternative dispute resolution for sport-related disputes in Canada.2 In essence, the SDRCC is an administrative body that is responsible for mediating and arbitrating sport-related disputes involving Canadian national team athletes; however, the SDRCC will only become involved after the disputing parties have exhausted their sport’s internal dispute resolution processes. All disputes submitted to the SDRCC are governed by the Canadian Sport Dispute Resolution Code (the Code) which “outlines the procedural rules under which all disputes submitted to SDRCC must [adhere to].”3 The most recent version of the Code (which applies to all SDRCC cases opened after 1 October 2023) can be found here and will be useful for any member of AthletesCAN who would like to bring a dispute to the SDRCC.

The SDRCC offers four different dispute resolution methods: resolution facilitation, mediation, arbitration, and mediation/arbitration.4 Resolution facilitation involves a neutral facilitator “whose role is to try to help the parties to better communicate with each other and to resolve their dispute through an amicable settlement.”5 Similarly, mediation involves a neutral third party who focuses on facilitating a resolution between disputing parties rather than on promoting communication. Mediation will only end a dispute if the disputing parties agree to a resolution.6 The process of arbitration, however, is significantly more structured and “employs a neutral third party to hear the evidence and decide for the disputants how their conflict should be resolved.”7 It is important to note that resolving disputes by arbitration will not be collaborative and the arbitrator’s decision will only favour one of the parties.8 Lastly, mediation/arbitration is a hybrid dispute resolution mechanism that may ultimately result in arbitration. In this mechanism, both parties are given the opportunity to first resolve their issues through mediation. If the mediation process is unsuccessful, both parties will be required to have their dispute resolved by arbitration.9

Beyond its role as an administrative tribunal, the SDRCC aims to educate Canadian national team athletes and provide them with the “tools and guidance to help resolve minor disputes quickly and informally.”10 The SDRCC is committed to proactively connecting with key stakeholders in the AthletesCAN community through the publication of resources, hosting of workshops, and the distribution of educational material about how to best prevent and resolve disputes at the lowest levels.11

For more information on the SDRCC, please visit the SDRCC website.

OSIC Logo

The Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC)

The Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner is an independent division of the SDRCC which aims to promote Safe Sport and implement the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport (UCCMS) across Canada.12

The UCCMS was first published in 2015 and “is the core document that sets harmonized rules to be adopted by sport organizations that receive funding from the Government of Canada to advance a respectful sport culture that delivers quality, inclusive, accessible, welcoming and safe sport experiences.” 13All sporting organizations that have adopted the UCCMS are held accountable by the OSIC to ensure that their sporting environments are free of misconduct and are spaces where all community members are treated “with dignity and respect.”14

The OSIC enforces the UCCMS in two ways: complaint management and through Sport Environment Assessments. The complaint management process focuses on individuals and involves receiving complaints, conducting initial assessments and independent investigations, imposing sanctions, and providing access to legal and mental health support.15Through its complaint management system, the OSIC has established a mechanism for members of the AthletesCAN community to ensure that they can report and address instances of maltreatment and misconduct.16

Sport Environment Assessments are broader in scope than the complaints handled by the complaint management process. The Assessments aim to investigate and address systemic issues of maltreatment and misconduct which contravene the UCCMS in a particular sport. Sport Environment Assessments are intended “to look for the truth, seek to understand the problem and its root causes, and then look at possible solutions, all of which are ultimately presented in a published report.”17

Both the complaint management and Sport Environment Assessment processes are designed to complement one another and aim to achieve the same fundamental goal of eliminating maltreatment and abuse within Canadian sports and ensuring compliance with the UCCMS.18

For more information on OSIC, please visit the OSIC Website.

National Sport Organizations (NSOs) and Provincial/Territorial Sport Organizations (PTSOs)

National Sport Organizations (NSOs) are “the national government bodies for [a] given sport in Canada.”19 At the time of the publication of this blog post, there are 63 federally-funded NSOs in Canada. Although they have many important functions, NSOs manage their sport’s high -performance programs, select their sport’s National Team(s), and manage the promotion of their sport across the country.20 Further, NSOs can directly assist athletes through the Athlete Assistance Program which supplies government funding directly to Canadian athletes nominated by their NSOs.21 A full list of the NSOs can be found on the Government of Canada website.

Notably, many NSOs have provincial and territorial counterparts, Provincial/Territorial  Sport Organizations (PTSOs), which have similar functions to NSOs. An athlete can interact with both their NSO and PTSO at different stages of their career and may even interact with both administrative bodies simultaneously. Due to the significant role that NSOs and PTSOs have in the development, mentoring, and success of their athletes, legal issues can arise between the parties over team selection, funding, and disciplinary measures. It is at this point that the parties may rely on the intervention of the SDRCC and the OSIC and members of AthletesCAN may turn to the Sport Solution Clinic for legal advice and representation.

Ultimately, NSOs, PTSOs, and athletes must work collaboratively within the guidelines of the SDRCC and the OSIC to advance the success of their respective sports and the safety of their sporting environments.

Sport Solution Clinic new logo

Western Law’s Sport Solution Clinic

Western Law’s Sport Solution Clinic provides pro bono (free!) legal advice and representation to Canada’s National Team athletes. The Sport Solution Clinic is unique as it is the “only program of its kind in North America and is available to all members of AthletesCAN.”22 The Clinic is dedicated to assisting Canada’s national team athletes in navigating the myriad administrative bodies and systems that govern their sports and provide access to the legal remedies available to them.

The Clinic is supervised by its Supervising Lawyer, Amanda Fowler, and is supported by a staff of 25 students at Western Law. Together, the team at the Sport Solution Clinic provides legal support on a wide variety of legal issues including general inquiries, team selection, Athlete Assistance Program funding, appeals, Safe Sport, discipline disputes, and preparation for mediation and arbitration through the SDRCC.

Ultimately, the Sport Solution Clinic exists to provide free legal assistance to Canada’s national athletes so they can focus on their sporting pursuits and reach their goals on the world’s biggest stages. For more information on the Sport Solution Clinic, please visit the Clinic’s website or contact us at sportsolution@athletescan.ca

Footnotes

AthletesCAN, Western Law unveil new Sport Solution brand, relaunch legal Clinic’s blog

TORONTO / LONDON, Ont. – AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes, and the Faculty of Law at Western University, are proud to unveil a new brand for Sport Solution and relaunch the legal Clinic’s official blog on AthletesCAN.ca

The new Sport Solution logo consists of the official AthletesCAN emblem – a triumphant athlete silhouetted within a red maple leaf – carefully centred within a black pillar, symbolizing the strength and stability of justice. The brand is completed with a wordmark lockup in the traditional colours of AthletesCAN and Western University – red, black and white, and purple – respectively.

The new mark gives the Clinic a more unique and distinct brand, while still maintaining its ties to both AthletesCAN and Western.

"AthletesCAN is excited to support Sport Solution as they continue growing and innovating in the ways they aid our members. For nearly 30 years, we have worked with Western Law to bring free legal information, advice, and guidance on sport-related issues to Team Canada’s athletes through this unique and innovative partnership. Today's announcement helps make Sport Solution accessible to an even greater number of athletes, by ensuring their wealth of legal knowledge is available in an easy to access and understand format."

Erin Willson - AthletesCAN President

In addition, the Sport Solution Blog is being relaunched on the official AthletesCAN website, following its initial run during the 2020-21 academic year. The blog will be authored by the Clinic’s Program Managers, and aims to share various expertise, stories, learnings, insights and information to empower national team athletes to make information decisions and assert their rights in legal disputes.

“We are excited about the opportunity for this new brand and platform to build further connections between the Clinic and AthletesCAN members. The updated logo is a reflection of our growth, success and relentless effort in the past four years, where we have become more widely known for protecting athletes' rights in all forms of legal settings - including high-profile and precedent-setting decisions for the sport community. The blog will help us continue to improve access to this information and awareness of the Clinic and its services.”

Amanda Fowler - Award-winning Supervising Lawyer of Sport Solution

The Sport Solution Blog will be published on a biweekly basis until the end of the academic year in April.

Sport Solution was founded in 1996, when AthletesCAN joined forces with the Sports Law Centre, the Faculty of Law at Western, and the Dispute Resolution Centre. The program is the only one of its kind in North America, and is available free for all members, providing relevant information, assistance and guidance on sport issues that may require legal counsel.

“Western Law is grateful for its ongoing partnership with AthletesCAN. The Sport Solution Clinic provides a unique experiential learning opportunity to our students. They can build their practical skills while making important contributions to the lives of amateur athletes and advocacy for safe sport.”

Erika Chamberlain - Dean of Western Law

Canadian national team athletes are invited to register and attend this winter’s AthletesCAN National Team Athlete Town Halls to give feedback on their athlete experiences. All Town Halls are taking place at local members of the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network. A full schedule of Town Halls is available here.

About Sport Solution

Sport Solution is committed to supporting an athlete-centred sport system and strives to achieve this objective by counselling and advocating on behalf of Canada’s high performance athletes so their voices are well represented when resolving sport related issues that affect them. 

Follow us on Instagram @sportsolutionclinic or click here

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 over 6,000 current and recently retired Canadian national team athletes, AthletesCAN membership spans 68 sports across the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan/Parapan American, and Commonwealth Games, and those currently funded by Sport Canada competing at Senior World Championships.

AthletesCAN ensures an athlete-centered sport system by developing athlete leaders who influence sport policy and, as role models, inspire a strong sport culture, through educational resources, support, training and professional development.  

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

Kaleigh Rodgers
Communications Specialist
Western Law
519-661-2111 Ext. 82126
krodgers@uwo.ca

Statement: AthletesCAN celebrates financial recognition equality for Canadian Paralympic podium performances

TORONTO  – AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes, released the following statement Wednesday regarding the announcement that Canadian Paralympic medalists will receive financial recognition for podium performances, beginning with the Paris 2024 Paralympics.  

"AthletesCAN celebrates today's announcement of equal pay for Canadian Paralympic medalists, financially recognizing the hard work of our Team Canada athletes. This announcement demonstrates that our sport system is making progress towards valuing Paralympians and Olympians equally by rewarding them for their success in a meaningful and equitable way. The costs and expenses athletes bear when training makes this additional funding particularly valuable to Paralympic athletes, and will be a difference maker to their athlete experience. This recognition of the commitment and hard work that goes into representing our nation on the world stage is long overdue."

Canadian parasport national team athletes, alongside their non-parasport counterparts are invited to register and attend the upcoming AthletesCAN National Team Athlete Town Halls this winter to discuss their athlete experiences. All Town Halls are taking place at local members of the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network. A full schedule of Town Halls is available here.

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 over 6,000 current and recently retired Canadian national team athletes, AthletesCAN membership spans 68 sports across the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan/Parapan American, and Commonwealth Games, and those currently funded by Sport Canada competing at Senior World Championships.

AthletesCAN ensures an athlete-centered sport system by developing athlete leaders who influence sport policy and, as role models, inspire a strong sport culture, through educational resources, support, training and professional development.  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

AthletesCAN to host National Team Athlete Town Halls in collaboration with Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network

TORONTO – AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s National Team athletes, is proud to announce an upcoming series of in-person Town Halls, in collaboration with the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network (COPSIN).

The National Team Athlete Town Halls will take place this winter, hosted at the main campuses of the Canadian Sport Institutes and Centres across the country, as well as Institut national du sport du Québec. Each event will educate athletes on how AthletesCAN serves them as their national association (AthletesCAN 101), allow them to share feedback on the current state of the athlete experience within their respective sports, and facilitate networking with their peers.

“AthletesCAN is excited to be hosting our 2024 Town Halls in collaboration with the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network. These in-person events are an important touchpoint with our membership, giving us valuable insight to help us ensure they have an athlete-centred experience, while allowing them to connect with the larger sporting community.”

Andrea Proske - AthletesCAN Vice President

Kicking off the Town Hall schedule, the first event will be hosted by Canadian Sport Institute Ontario at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre on Tuesday, Jan. 30. The full schedule is as follows:

Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre) – Tuesday, Jan. 30, 1 p.m. & 3 p.m. ET

Canadian Sport Institute Pacific (Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence – Victoria, B.C.) – Tuesday, Feb. 13, 1 p.m. PT

Canadian Sport Centre Manitoba (Frank Kennedy Centre – Winnipeg, Man. / Virtual via Zoom) – Tuesday, Feb. 27, 6 p.m. CT

Institut national du sport du Québec (INS Complexe at Olympic Park – Montréal, Que.) – Tuesday, Mar. 12, 1 p.m. ET

Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (WinSport) – Tuesday, Mar. 26, 7 p.m. MT

This in-person series follows an initial virtual Town Hall for Canadian Sport Institute Atlantic and Canadian Sport Centre Saskatchewan-affiliated athletes held on Nov. 16. 

“The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network is proud to support AthletesCAN in the delivery of their Town Hall sessions across the country. AthletesCAN is an important resource for athletes in the sport system, and the Town Halls will provide a great opportunity for athletes to share their experiences, as well as learn from and network with their peers. We encourage all eligible athletes to participate in these sessions.”

Debbie Low - COPSIN Representative and CEO of Canadian Sport Institute Ontario

Additional Town Halls at other COPSIN-affiliated facilities – including the Mattamy National Cycling Centre (Milton, Ont.), the Beach Volleyball High Performance Centre and Athletics Canada East Hub Training Centre (both in Toronto), the David S. Howes Performance Centre at Canada Games Park (Thorold, Ont.) the Richmond Olympic Oval (Richmond, B.C.), the Whistler Athletes’ Centre (Whistler, B.C.) and Canmore Nordic Centre (Canmore, Alta.) – will also be evaluated based on athlete interest. 

National Team athletes can register for their respective Town Hall at the link below.

About the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network

Every. Single. Day. – The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network is focused on elevating athletes along their high-performance pathway through leadership, education, research and delivery of performance, health and wellness solutions.  It includes nutrition, performance analysis, physiology, sport medicine, sport therapy, strength and conditioning, mental health and performance, and Game Plan.

Our Network of seven institutes and centres across Canada provides athletes and coaches with access to world-class facilities where they can train and excel.

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 over 6,000 current and recently retired Canadian national team athletes, AthletesCAN membership spans 68 sports across the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan/Parapan American, and Commonwealth Games, and those currently funded by Sport Canada competing at Senior World Championships. AthletesCAN ensures an athlete-centered sport system by developing athlete leaders who influence sport policy and, as role models, inspire a strong sport culture, through educational resources, support, training and professional development.  

Follow us on social @AthletesCAN and Join #TheCollective today.

For more information, please contact:

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

Laura Albright
Senior Advisor, Communications & Marketing
Canadian Sport Institute Ontario
Representative of COPSIN
647-395-536
lalbright@csiontario.ca

Statement: AthletesCAN, COC Athletes’ Commission support Minister Qualtrough’s launch of the Future of Sport in Canada Commission

TORONTO / OTTAWA – AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes, and the Canadian Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission (COC AC), the elected representatives of Olympians across Canada, commend today’s announcement by Minister Qualtrough on the launch of the Future of Sport in Canada Commission and other sport system commitments as a meaningful step to address the history of systemic abuse in Canadian sport and its underlying causes.

As the representatives of over 6,000 current and recently retired national team athletes covering 68 sports, we support the Minister’s commitment to changing the culture of sport to ensure the safety and protection of athletes through a trauma-informed, independent, long-term initiative to investigate abuse in sport. We applaud Minister Qualtrough’s ongoing leadership and support on this critical issue.

Minister Qualtrough’s elevation of Sport Canada’s Athlete Advisory Committee to a Ministerial Athlete Advisory Committee and commitment to strengthening AthletesCAN’s capacity further demonstrate her dedication to bolstering the athlete voice and empowering athletes within the sport system. In addition, updates including the greater independence of the Abuse-Free Sport program and the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC), the modernization of the Sport Funding and Accountability Framework, the unification of the Sport Integrity Framework, and the creation of an International Working Group on Sport Integrity, are positive contributions to ensuring a safe and well-functioning sport system.These immediate-term measures, in combination with the announcement of the Future of Sport in Canada Commission, are just the latest examples of the Minister continuing to develop a national system that seeks to prioritize athletes’ well-being, both now and in the future.

Today’s announcement builds on the prior commitments of the 2023 Sport Governance Reforms, the stories shared by athletes in hearings held by the Standing Committees on Canadian Heritage and the Status of Women, and the knowledge gained from the first year and a half of operations of Abuse-Free Sport and OSIC.

We recognize that there are athletes calling for a public inquiry. However, we have confidence that the process outlined by the Minister – committed to being trauma-informed and human rights-based – will result in a comprehensive report, a set of actionable items, and athletes feeling seen, heard, and validated.

We, as elected athlete representatives, will continue to advocate for increased accountability measures and look forward to ensuring athletes are at the heart of decision-making. We will continue to work with Minister Qualtrough to ensure all athlete voices are prioritized and heard throughout this process, and to build together a stronger, healthier, and more welcoming sport environment for athletes across the country for years to come.

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 over 6,000 current and recently retired Canadian national team athletes, AthletesCAN membership spans 68 sports across the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan/Parapan American, and Commonwealth Games, and those currently funded by Sport Canada competing at Senior World Championships. AthletesCAN ensures an athlete-centered sport system by developing athlete leaders who influence sport policy and, as role models, inspire a strong sport culture, through educational resources, support, training and professional development.  

Follow us on social @AthletesCAN and Join #TheCollective today.

About the COC Athletes' Commission

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

COC Athletes’ Commision
athletescommission@olympic.ca
@TeamCanadaAC
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