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Pay equity 'makes us proud to be curlers and role models': Jennifer Jones

When it was announced two week ago pay equity was coming to Canada's national curling championships, Jennifer Jones was bursting with pride. "As a mom of daughters, I want them to be able to reach for the stars and do it in an equal way," the 2014 Olympic champion said.

'As a mom of daughters, I want them to be able to reach for the stars and do it in an equal way'

Canadian skip Jennifer Jones, shown in this 2018 file photo hugging her children Isabella (left) and Skyla (right), says pay equity for the winners of the men's and women's national curling championships is "a great step in the right direction and makes us proud to be curlers and role models for all these young women chasing their dreams." (File/The Canadian Press)

Jennifer Jones had just stepped off the ice inside Conception Bay South Arena on Friday night after a thrilling, last-shot victory over Team Scheidegger to earn a spot in the playoffs at the Boost National Grand Slam event.

She waved to the crowd, gave her teammates a high-five, signed autographs and then disappeared from the bright lights and cameras, walking down the corridor of the arena to the dressing room.

Waiting there for Jones was her three-year-old daughter, Skyla, smiling from ear-to-ear, arms out and ready to give her mom a hug. For Jones, it makes winning that much sweeter and lessens the sting after a loss.

Jones' two daughters, Skyla and now seven-year-old Isabella are what's inspiring her now. The 2014 Olympic champion continues to push herself as hard as she can on the ice to show her children what's possible and to never give up.

"Through all of this, through all the curling, through all the sacrifice that we have made, if my little girls come out of this knowing that anything is possible, it's all been worth it," Jones said.

Jones is on the road week-after-week curling. So too is her husband, Brent Laing, who is a member of Team Epping. It hasn't always been easy being a mother and curler, but Jones says it's a part of her family's story and she wouldn't have it any other way.

"It's been incredible," she said. "I feel like we're setting great examples for our kids."

'A step in the right direction'

That's why, when it was announced two week ago pay equity was coming to Canada's national curling championships, Jones was bursting with pride.

"Curling has always been a leader in that area. We've always had equal time on TV. Now we have equal pay at our national championship. It's a great step in the right direction and makes us proud to be curlers and role models for all these young women chasing their dreams," she said.

Jones has always been a strong advocate for women and sport and wants not only her daughters but every young female athlete to feel appreciated and respected.

"As a mom of daughters, I want them to be able to reach for the stars and do it in an equal way," Jones said.

"I see my daughter who's in competitive gymnastics and she is inspired by how I perform under pressure. I feel like she's learned so much from watching her mom and dad on TV."

Levelling the pay gap

During the Canada Cup event in Leduc, Alta., at the beginning of December, Curling Canada CEO Katherine Henderson announced the Scotties and Brier champions will both receive $105,000.

The announcement came as the two national championships fast approach and also in the wake of a heated debate over pay equity during last year's Brier and Scotties.

Many wondered why there was such a discrepancy in the payout: Kevin Koe's Alberta foursome was paid $100,500, including cresting and prize money for their victory, while Chelsea Carey's Scotties win was only worth $59,000, including cresting and prize money.

Now pay equity has arrived at both events, totalling $300,000.

"It's double basically. It's massive," said Carey. "Going into this year if we had that extra money it would allow us to travel more, workout more, work less. It's tough at this level financially so any increase is such a boost to day-to-day life."

Last year's totals for comparison were $293,000 for the Brier purse and $165,000 for the Scotties.

That's now changed in a move that was important to Henderson and Curling Canada. Both national champion teams will receive $105,000, while the second-place teams will take home $65,000. Third place gets $45,000, leaving $85,000 for the remaining teams competing at the events.

Slams have always included equal pay

Carey says she believes there was increasing pressure on Curling Canada to make the change due to the Grand Slam events having pay equity.

"I think in a lot of ways we have the Slams to thank for this. They mandated that from the start. It was a game-changer for the women's game," Carey said.

And Jones agrees.

"The Slams have always been that way. It was always important to them to make it equal. It was incredible. They were leaders in that area," she said.

Sportsnet took over the Grand Slam of Curling in August 2012. In the first two seasons there were only four events – however, the women only competed in two. The prize money was equal but how many events the women were competing in wasn't.

Over the years though, the Slams have continued to add women's events to the schedule, finally arriving at complete parity – the same number of events and same amount of money as the men

"I've always felt as though our game was fairly similar to the men's game. I've never felt slighted that way. We've felt like superstars. It was kind of icing on the cake for me," Jones said.

Clarifications

  • Total purses for the Brier and Scotties have been changed to reflect money won in the championship round-robins at each event.
    Dec 02, 2019 12:17 PM ET

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