Mitchell: Reflections on my hometown ahead of Calgary Pride

Diversity and inclusivity will be front and centre in the City of Calgary when 60,000 people are expected to be standing in support of the LGBTQ community.

The 25th, and notably the largest, edition of Calgary Pride is being held in front of a background that has often been seen as very conservative and not accepting. Legalization of gay marriage took place through the courts and parliament more than a decade ago in Canada and was met with outrage by many in Alberta. This is not the landscape in Alberta today and I am so pleased to see how far we have come since then.

Ski jumper Eric Mitchell captured prior to landing at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Ski jumper Eric Mitchell captured prior to landing at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

I am about as Calgarian as it gets, my grandparents often tell me stories about how it was to grow up in the city. In fact, when they met over 60 years ago, they were just blocks away from where we will be parading on Sunday. I have also grown up in Calgary and it was on the ski jumps at WinSport Canada Olympic Park that got me started in the sport that I ultimately fell in love with. The highest point in my ski jumping career was during the Vancouver Olympic Games and I was so proud to be part of a diverse and inclusive Canada.

As one of the founding ambassadors for the Canadian Olympic Committee’s #OneTeam initiative, I have had the honour of working closely with the creation of a world-leading strategy to fundamentally change the Canadian sports landscape. Although my grandparents – who are born in the 1920s – are able to accept and support me for being who I am, this support is not always apparent in many of the classrooms and locker rooms across the country. Many young LGBTQ athletes still do not feel welcome within the sporting system and that is why this initiative is so important. Sport has always been able to bring people together and the #OneTeam program has created a framework of resources that will help educate everyone on how to be a better ally and help to make our country more inclusive.

Just look at all the organizations who will be joining us: the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, You Can Play, WinSport, CSI Calgary, the Calgary Inferno, the Calgary Flames, the Calgary Stampeders, the Calgary Hitmen, and the Calgary Roughnecks. Most importantly however, is the message that these organizations are sending: we are all taking a stance of solidarity – we are allwelcome in sport. I know I can speak for the rest of the ambassadors in saying that we are so excited and cannot wait to share our stories with students across this great city.