Following its June 2020 statement to address and combat racism and discrimination in sport, AthletesCAN is pleased to announce the selected members of the Diversity and Equity (DE) Advisory Committee. As athlete leaders and catalysts for positive change, this committee will be pivotal in creating diverse and inclusive environments for the athlete voice to thrive in the Canadian sport system.
The DE Advisory Committee members will provide guidance and recommendations to AthletesCAN on practices aligned with the Diversity, Equity, and Access, providing feedback on current and future programming, and meeting additional objectives. The DE Advisory Committee will meet monthly, and will first focus on formalizing the committee terms of reference and mandate. It is anticipated that the first year will focus on anti-racism and other issues affecting BIPOC members of the athlete community.
AthletesCAN received a significant number of applications, and is grateful to all the dedicated and passionate candidates that put their names forward. After a difficult selection process, the following sport leaders have been selected:
- Alecia Beckford-Stewart, BSc (Bobsleigh), Chiropractic Student
- Christianne Varty, MSc (Ringette), PhD Candidate in Organizational Studies
- Shanice Marcelle (Beach Volleyball), Varsity Assistant Coach
- Kim Donaldson, (Rugby), Career Facilitator
- Joy SpearChief-Morris, MA (Athletics), Student Opportunities Coordinator at the Indigenous Student Centre at Western University
- Andrew Schnell, BA, MSc (Squash), Juris Doctor Candidate
- Oluwasegun Makinde, B.Comm (Athletics), Keynote Speaker, Podcast Producer & Host
As previously announced, the committee will be chaired by Neville Wright, PT (Athletics/Bobsleigh), Physical Therapist, Keynote Speaker, and rounded out by current and former AthletesCAN board members Bo Hedges B.Comm, MA (Wheelchair Basketball) and former President and lawyer Dasha Peregoudova (Taekwondo).
Alecia Beckford-Stewart brings her experience as a member of the Canadian Bobsleigh national team from 2014-2018. Alecia explains, “I am both excited and encouraged to be part of the change to the culture in the Canadian Sport System.” Alecia is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Chiropractic from the Palmer College of Chiropractic where she serves as student representative of the California Chiropractic Association Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. Alecia also holds a position as the West Region student representative with the America Black Chiropractic Association.
Christianne Varty is a current member of the Canadian Ringette national team, serving as Ringette Ontario’s Athlete Director. In addition to her governance experience, Christianne brings knowledge to the committee gained as a doctoral student in Organizational Studies. She explains, “it’s clear that more needs to be done to improve diversity and equity in Canadian sport, and I’m excited to be a part of moving sport forward as a member of this committee.” As an experienced researcher, Christianne’s PhD focuses on workplace discrimination and inequality as it manifests in leadership positions and how organizations can advance diversity without reinforcing stereotypes and undermining diversity.
Shanice Marcelle is a current Canadian Beach Volleyball national team athlete and university assistant volleyball coach. Shanice shares, “I’m grateful for the opportunity to make a difference for current and future athletes. Being an athlete has been the greatest joy of my life, and I hope that we can continue to make it better and give all voices a chance to be heard, seen and valued.” Shanice has vast experience as an athlete, coach, speaker, and blogger who has recently sat on various panels and interviews discussing BIPOC issues in sport. Shanice is a member of the Black Coaches of Canada Association and serves on the Ontario Volleyball Associations Inclusion, Diversity, & Equity Advisory Committee.
Kim Donaldson is a former member of the Canadian Rugby national team, who represented Canada at the 2010 and 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup events. Kim has transitioned to coaching post retirement at both the university and national team levels. Kim explains, “I would like to contribute to Canadian Sport to ensure that all athletes, regardless of their backgrounds, feel the welcome within their sport, NSO, training, and competition environments. To achieve top performance, I feel that we must feel safe to be ourselves. I would love the opportunity to help create those spaces.” Kim also brings experience and knowledge from her time serving from Rugby Canada Players’ Committee from 2011-2014 and in her current role as a member of the Victoria Disability Resource Centre Board of Directors.
Joy SpearChief-Morris is a current Athletics national team member training to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games. Joy brings to the committee governance experience, having served on the AthletesCAN Board of Directors (2018-2019) and Athletics Canada Athletes’ Council (2018-2020). Joy also brings a wealth of knowledge through her education background, recently completing a Masters of Arts degree in Political Science specializing in Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Resolution and holding a Bachelor of Arts degree of History and First Nations Studies. Joy shares, “I am excited to be a part of the Diversity and Equity Advisory Committee. It is a pleasure to be involved again with AthletesCAN and making a difference in the world of sport.” Joy also brings her skills and knowledge as the current Student Opportunities Coordinator at the Indigenous Student Centre at Western University and as an experienced panelist on Indigenous, Black, and diversity issues.
Andrew Schnell is 5x Pan American Games medalist and 2x Canadian champion, competing in the Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Tour. Andrew brings to the committee his knowledge gained from his education background, including his Master’s degree focus on human rights, past work with Indigenous communities, and advocacy and research skills as a Juris Doctor candidate. Andrew explains, “it is an absolute privilege to join the AthletesCAN Diversity and Equity Advisory Committee. As a Pan American Games Gold Medalist and a National Team Athlete, I have experienced first-hand the amazing work that AthletesCAN does. I am excited to bring the expertise I garnered from my Master’s of Science in Kinesiology thesis on Inclusion and Diversity in Canadian Sport, and my ongoing Law degree.”
Oluwasegun Makinde is 2x Olympian, 3x international medalist in Athletics currently training for Tokyo Olympic Games. “I want to use my experience and the experiences of others in the BIPOC community to help amplify marginalized athlete voices, push for adequate representation of BIPOC individuals, promote development and leadership opportunities for BIPOC athletes, create safe environments, and work with National Sport Organizations to eliminate any potential or perceived barriers within the Canadian sport system.” Oluwasegun brings advocacy and governance experience as a current member of the Athletics Canada Athletes’ Council, knowledge from his education background in commerce and marketing, and through his role as host and producer for his podcast, The Inner Olympian.
AthletesCAN looks forward to sharing DE Advisory Committee updates with the sport community and encourages all interested athletes and supporters to stay tuned for committee initiative updates and opportunities on social media.
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.