The disappointment of a Commission in Canadian Sport

The disappointment of a Commission in Canadian Sport

In December, I wrote to Members of Parliament on the Heritage Committee my thoughts on the Minister’s announcement - here is that note…

I just wanted to share my survivor perspective after the Minister's announcement today and before her testimony tomorrow. I hope you take this into consideration. 

The first thing is that we are in fact disappointed with this announcement. The Minister is prematurely celebrating that the outcomes will be satisfactory to survivors and stakeholders. This commission has no subpoena power, nor any of the victim protections included in a public inquiry. I have had to report my abuse to seven different organizations, and this feels exactly like every other process - no safeguards, flying by the seat of their pants - the exact same way they created OSIC with no teeth and against the wishes of survivors. The Minister apologized for survivors not having a voice up until this point, and yet is turning her back on the single thing most survivors agree upon - a Public Inquiry. The Minister is perpetuating the crisis we have now - asking for input of athletes/survivors and then choosing to do something else.

The Minster states that this is based on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission - which, on the Government of Canada website, states “provided those directly or indirectly affected by the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools system with an opportunity to share their stories and experiences”. I do not need a forum to simply tell my story, I need someone in power to do something to protect me and the next me. There is not a lack of forums to tell my story or any sport survivor to tell a story - there is a lack of space where someone can hold abusers and enablers accountable, and this commission does not solve that fundamental problem.

The second thing has been the push back from both Liberals and Conservatives on cost and timeline. This has consistently been pushed as the deterring factor of an Inquiry, but seemingly not taken into account in this commission. 10-15 million dollars (or more!) and 18 months to produce… recommendations. We have two committees giving recommendations already. We need actionable items and accountability in implementing them.

A couple more quick points -

  • There is no acknowledgement of investigating Own the Podium, Sport Canada, the SDRCC, NSOs, etc. as we have called for. Is that included in this plan? Most athletes do not know the hand these organizations have played in the culture of sport in Canada and wouldn’t likely be able to provide that information in an interview.

  • If there is an election or a change of government during this process, what protections are in place to see this through?

  • When the reports are finished, who is ensuring the recommendations are followed through with? How is this different than FEWO or Heritage in terms of implementation?

  • The Minister had much to say about giving Sport Canada more power in terms of accountability. Who is holding Sport Canada accountable for the part they have played in sport culture?

  • Survivors were, once again, NOT listened to and now implored to see a process that has no protections. So if this doesn’t work, survivors were ignored, told to participate and wait 18 months and then what? Start fighting for an inquiry again having wasted 15 million dollars and two years?

This announcement is a disappointment. It feels like checking a box with no  power or intention. This is another process that will not hold abusers or enablers accountable, thus not changing sport.



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