Community Clubs

Equity, diversity & inclusion at heart of revived Ottawa Sport Summit on Nov. 26

By Dan Plouffe

The last time the Ottawa Sport Summit was held in March 2019, the Ottawa Sport Council tweaked its annual gathering to a workshop format for local sports organizations to craft their five-year strategic plan.

While “global pandemic” wasn’t a part of the predicted outlook then, the Council’s willingness to change and adapt to the community’s needs proved to be a powerfully prophetic skill, and that will remain a key theme when the Summit at last returns on Nov. 26 at the Nepean Sailing Club.

“We are thrilled to bring our sport sector together again,” signals Ottawa Sport Council executive director Marci Morris, noting that participants have always found networking with peers exceptionally valuable at Summits on top of learnings.

“Although we accomplished a lot as a sector through the pandemic – particularly through the Ottawa Return to Play Roadmap – it will be fantastic to have everyone in the same room working together,” she adds.

The revived Summit will focus on a topic that emerged even further to the forefront during COVID: “Creating Diverse and Inclusive Sport Environments.”

The MLSE Foundation’s Change the Game Research, released in July 2021, noted that “the pandemic and other current events have both exacerbated and raised awareness of pre-existing disparities across race, gender, ability, income level, and geographies regarding opportunity and capacity to engage in sport.”

The Ontario-wide study highlighted many issues and barriers to sport participation that apply to Ottawa as well, including sport’s financial burden, access to equipment and transportation, facilities and availability for emerging sports and groups, unwelcoming environments, and lack of leadership that reflects the community.

~~~~~~~~~ Advertisement ~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~ Advertisement ~~~~~~~~~

The Summit will first aim to deepen the understanding of the local picture, with speakers from marginalized communities set to share their lived experiences, outline the barriers they face, and suggest improvements that could help.

The workshop-format event will be facilitated by Ottawa Sport Council director Shamir Kanji and Andrea Carey, whose INclusion INcorporated consulting firm will lead a larger project to develop an equity, diversity, and inclusion resource hub for community sports organizations, thanks to funding from Canadian Tire Jumpstart.

Morris notes that local sports groups are in different stages of their journeys to deliver inclusive programs, but the willingness and desire to do so is strong across the board.

“Our goal now is really to find out from the community what tools they want developed to help them,” Morris indicates. “Everyone says they’re very interested in this topic, but I want to walk away with a tangible – I don’t just want a heads up that this is the right thing to do, I want an understanding of how to do it.”

Marginalized communities hit hardest by COVID

Though it’s the first Summit that puts equity, diversity and inclusion directly in the title, the theme strikes at the heart of Council’s mission.

Among its past projects were a Summit focused on parasport inclusion, a Rideau-Vanier sport inclusion initiative, and an online workshop on EDI as part of its 2021 Rebound series – where a panel noted that inclusive programming can attract more participants and have financial benefits on top of its moral value.

The Council has also supported many local projects to reduce participation barriers and increase accessibility through its Ottawa Sport Council Foundation.

“The Ottawa Sport Council believes there should only be positive experiences in sport for EVERYONE,” Morris underlines in an e-mail interview with the Ottawa Sports Pages. “Helping to educate, enable and empower our Ottawa community sport organizations to make their programs more inclusive and welcoming to all members of our community is extremely important to us.

“The topic has always been important, however the pandemic brought it even more into the forefront. While COVID-19 had a significant impact on community sport, the extent of the impact on racialized/lower socio-economic/under-represented and or vulnerable populations was much higher, which makes the need to support the sector on this topic even more critical.”

Registration for the Ottawa Sport Summit is free, and can be completed online at:

HELP SHINE A LIGHT ON LOCAL SPORT! The Ottawa Sports Pages has proudly provided a voice for local sport for over 10 years, but we need your help to continue another 10 and beyond. Please donate to the Ottawa Sports Pages Fund today.

Leave a Reply