Manitoba sports organizations sign pledge to work toward anti-racism

Representatives of some of the largest athletic organizations signed on to an accord pledging to work toward eliminating racism in sports. 

Signatories to Anti-Racism in Sport Accord include Winnipeg Goldeyes, Sport Manitoba

The accord calls on sports organizations to develop anti-racism policies and record data on racist incidents. (Cliff Simpson/CBC)

Representatives of some of Manitoba's largest athletic organizations have pledged to work toward eliminating racism in sports. 

Signatories to the Anti-Racism in Sport Accord, which was officially launched Thursday, include the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball team, Sport Manitoba, Athletics Manitoba, and the Manitoba Aboriginal Sports and Recreation Council. 

"These are commitments that will help assess, acknowledge and intentionally address racism within sport organizations," said Daria Joquera Palmer, project consultant on the Anti-Racism in Sport Campaign, during a ceremonial signing event at the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.

Thursday's event was held on the one-year anniversary of the start of the anti-racism campaign, with was launched by Immigration Partnership Winnipeg to help address racism and eliminate barriers to sports participation.

"Sport is a cultural thing," said Reuben Garang, executive director of Immigration Partnership Winnipeg.

"When I was young, I used to play sport and the reason of playing is that you want to have fun, primarily.... But you will not enjoy if you are not welcome and respected on the playground and that is what this accord is to accomplish."

By signing the accord, the organizations commit to setting goals for themselves and reporting on their progress annually. 

They agree to educate and train staff at all levels about racism and anti-racism. They also pledge to develop and enforce a zero-tolerance anti-racism policy, with mechanisms to report and record racist incidents. 

Finally, they agree to collect race-based data within their organizations and increase diversity and representation at all levels, including participants, coaches, referees, board members and staff.

"The Winnipeg Goldeyes are committed to making sport safe and inclusive for all," said the team's general manager, Andrew Collier.

Collier said the Goldeyes have been part of the anti-racism campaign from the beginning. As part of the team's commitment, the Goldeyes plan to hold a "diversity day" event this season in celebration of the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the colour barrier by becoming the first Black player in Major League Baseball.

In the year since the campaign launched, organizers have conducted a research project with the University of Manitoba faculty of kinesiology and recreation management and faculty of arts to gather information on the experiences of racism in sport. 

That was followed by a series of presentations to middle school students across the province. Current and former professional athletes from teams such as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Valour FC have made presentations to more than 2,000 students. 

It also involved an advertising campaign and the development of a three-hour training workshop titled "Sport is Not an Even Playing Field: An Introduction to Anti-Racism, Literacy and Action."