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Saskatchewan leading the way in inclusion and diversity initiatives

On Oct. 23 and 24 in Moose Jaw, Sask Sport Inc. hosted a two-day inclusion and diversity seminar featuring guest speakers and stakeholders across amateur sporting agencies and other vested groups. The solely focused seminar was reportedly the first of its kind for a sports governing agency in Canada.

Sporting organizations under the Sask Sport umbrella, including Golf Saskatchewan have been working to increase participation in various sporting activities. According to Sask Sport several amateur sport groups were undertaking their own initiatives to increase numbers and diversity but last week’s event was the first collective session to discuss inclusion and diversity. Amy Shipley, the community development consultant for Sask Sport said Saskatchewan residents are searching for different activities.

“The population demographics in Saskatchewan are changing and the province is becomingly increasingly diverse. The conversations at the retreat started an important dialogue on how the system can leverage the strength of diversity in the province,” she said.

The objective of the conference was to inject enthusiasm into the diversity and inclusion dialogue. Ideas were generated on how to increase participation through individuals that brought different ideas to the table. Shipley said hearing from provincial sporting agencies was important to Sask Sport going forward.

“Roundtable discussions allowed members to share their thoughts and ideas on enhancing the system through diversity. Too often we look to outside sources and subject matter experts and forget that there is strength in our system to challenge difficult issues and find solutions that will create a stronger sport system,” Shipley said.

Golf Canada incorporated their own Equity Diversity Inclusion Policy in December of 2017. President Leslie Dunning Pictured above) provided a keynote address during the conference highlighting Golf Canada’s plan and ideas. Dunning said she was very impressed with Sask Sports’ enthusiasm towards diversity and inclusion.

“The fact Sask Sport is taking leadership and spending two days on this topic with their sports organizations is really impressive to me,” she told Golf Saskatchewan. “I am not aware of any other sports group across the country that have used an entire seminar over two days focused entirely on the issue.”

Dunning was pleased to see provincial tribal councils and Indigenous groups involved in the meetings as well.

Sask Sport will share the information generated during the conference to their members and ask the groups to answer a questionnaire and provide feedback. Potential “lunch and learn” meetings are being discussed to keep the momentum going. Dunning said Golf Canada had numerous discussions ahead of their organization settling on a policy for diversity and inclusion in their sport. She hopes Sask Sport can follow the same route.

“Accountability is part of it and annual reporting on what are the initiatives. Not just to make sure we are doing it but to share successes on what is possible. I think that’s important, build a policy into your plan, you have reports of what is happening, that keeps the topic in the forefront. My hope is it turns into action,” Dunning said.

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