On Monday, four brave women stepped into the spotlight and spoke publicly to protect young athletes across all sports. Athletics Canada applauds the courage of Geneviève Simard, Amélie-Frédérique Gagnon, Gail Kelly and Anna Pruchal who have come forward as a united voice to challenge and change the sport system; their acts of bravery will protect athletes for generations.
Athletes and parents need to trust the entire sport system with their safety. It should not matter what sport an athlete chooses, safety should be universally understood, expected and applied with no exceptions.
Athletics Canada supports the need for sport organizations to ensure sport is free of abuse, including but not limited to:
- Training as it relates to rights, responsibilities, obligations and awareness for athletes, coaches, professional service providers and management;
- Open communication with athletes, coaches, staff and volunteers on how to recognize and react to instances of abuse and harassment;
- Development, adoption and adherence of policies and procedures to prevent all forms of abuse;
- An independent avenue for parties to raise concerns when issues arise and where appropriate incident management can be facilitated.
There is still work to be done, however, Athletics Canada is confident in the steps taken over the last few years and at our Annual General Meeting that was held May 25-26.
Two years ago, Athletics Canada instituted a Commissioner’s Office to handle complaints, including harassment and abuse. A recent review of the Commissioner’s Office has indicated it is working well, we’ve recently made adjustments to the scope of work and jurisdiction to ensure all participants feel like they have a safe and accessible avenue to access in instances of conflict.
The membership also approved a revised Code of Conduct and Harassment Policy. Our Governance Committee committed to develop a Conflict of Interest Policy and Terms of Reference for Independent Investigators to explore abuse and harassment complaints brought forward to the Commissioner’s Office.
Athletics Canada will continue to work with the sport community to bring improvements to the entire Canadian system. We encourage all those connected with our sport, athletes, coaches, staff and volunteers to speak their mind on the issue.