Canadian Olympic Team Strengthens Equality With LGBTQ Initiatives

For Immediate Release

COC, You Can Play, Egale Canada Human Rights Trust and more than 25 Canadian Elite Athletes team up to support LGBTQ diversity in sport


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TORONTO (Dec. 2, 2014) – The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) announced today that it is taking unprecedented steps to protect and support LGBTQ athletes, youth and coaches in sport and schools. The initiatives announced at PrideHouse Toronto, include entering into a partnership with leading LGBTQ organizations, updating its anti-discrimination language within the COC Articles and introducing LGBTQ-specific educational resources for its national in-school program which will be promoted across the country by Canadian athletes.

Earlier in the day, a tri-party Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the You Can Play Project – the premier organization for LGBTQ equality in sport, and Egale – Canada’s only national charity promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender human rights through research, education and community engagement to promote equality in amateur and high-level sport.

In addition to the MOU, the COC is working with Egale and You Can Play to:

  • Create ground-breaking LGBTQ-focused resources to be used in its Canadian Olympic School Program (COSP) for educators and students from grades 6 to 8;
  • Launch a new #OneTeam athlete ambassador program, which will take Canadian athletes into schools across the country to promote mental fitness, self-esteem and equality in sport; and
  • Train the #OneTeam athlete ambassadors so that they can use the newly-updated COSP resources at assemblies, in Q and A’s and during seminars, engaging LGBTQ and straight-allied athletes throughout the year.

Over the next 12 months, the COC will endeavour to foster a broader conversation around LGBTQ issues which will include engagement with athletes, coaches and the broader sport community in different regions of the country, and will work with COC’s corporate and media partners to bring attention to these important issues.

Work is already underway in the COC’s corporate offices in Toronto and Montreal as COC staff are being trained by Egale, with a focus on creating a more inclusive corporate culture. The COSP and its resources will set out to connect and engage 1 million students and we will establish formal relationships with 25 school boards nationally by the end of 2016.


“Today is a positive step forward, and just a beginning. Over the next few months our work and engagement will only increase. Our hope is that this conversation leads to a safer, more diverse and inclusive sport system for our athletes, coaches, sport partners and our great country.”

Marcel Aubut, President, Canadian Olympic Committee
“Athletes should be judged by their performance on the field of play and their character as people, not for who they love. Today’s announcement is a positive step forward and we are so proud to begin the important work in changing the locker room culture across Canada.”

Christopher Overholt, CEO, Canadian Olympic Committee
“We are thrilled to be working with Egale and the COC to create a more inclusive environment for LGBTQ youth and athletes across Canada. We have always believed that by creating change in sport, we create change across all segments of society. Having Canadian elite athletes working with young people across Canada will create a more inclusive environment where all LGBTQ people are able live their lives freely, openly and with pride.”

Wade Davis, Executive Director, You Can Play
“I commend the COC for their leadership on this initiative. This is only the beginning of a longer journey on the road to equality. We look forward to ongoing discussion on how to ensure the full and equitable inclusion of all identities within the LGBTQ community.”

Helen Kennedy, Executive Director of Egale Canada Human Rights Trust
“Sport is one of the great equalizers in our society, and every person deserves to be included regardless of the level of competition. The leadership being shown by the COC and Canadian athletes is a great step to ensuring inclusion and equality in sport and education is promoted across our great country.”

Mark Tewksbury, two-time Olympian, three-time Olympic medallist and
Canada’s Chef de Mission at the London 2012 Olympic Games
“As an ally of the LGBTQ community, I’m proud to join the COC and with my fellow Olympians, athletes and coaches as a One Team Ambassador in support of inclusion in sport. Considering some of the challenges and progress we’ve seen recently within the world of sport, it’s encouraging that the Canadian Olympic Team is taking a leadership role on this important issue.”

Adam van Koeverden, three-time Olympian and four-time Olympic medallist
“Although we have seen some incredible progress recently on LGBTQ rights, we must never lose sight of the tremendous work that still lies ahead. Today, we have taken a bold step forward as a sport community to offer a safe and inclusive place for athletes and the future generations.”

Jason Burnett, Beijing 2008 Olympic silver medallist
“I am getting involved with this One Team initiative because I want to be able to give a voice to gay youth in sport. I want to tell them that despite their struggles, they aren’t alone and that they’re able to achieve great success regardless of their sexual orientation or who they love.”

John Fennell, Sochi 2014 Olympian
“As a coach, we must always promote a healthy environment for athletes, no matter what our player’s backgrounds may be. I am pleased to see the COC and Canada’s elite athletes take a strong and united stand on inclusion.”

Daniele Sauvageau, Head Coach of Canada’s gold medal-winning
Women’s Hockey Team at the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic
“Everyone should be able to participate in sport, without discrimination of any kind. Canada has consistently shown leadership in ensuring that sport is safe, fair and welcoming for all. Today’s announcement further supports the active engagement of the LGBTQ community in Canada’s sport system. We commend the Canadian Olympic Committee and its partners for promoting greater inclusion in sport.”

The Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport)


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