Safe Sport Update
To our Ontario Artistic Swimming Community,
We are writing to touch base and provide you with an update on what happened last week. You will recall that on March 9, 2021, we learned that five former elite swimmers had filed an application to authorize a Class Action Lawsuit against Canada Artistic Swimming (CAS) alleging that CAS failed to provide a safe training environment for our athletes. CAS advised on March 16, 2021, that it has referred the application to the independent CAS Safe Sport Officer to determine whether any further action in relation to the coaches named in the application is warranted. A video statement was released by CAS Chief Executive Officer Jackie Buckingham on March 18, 2021, and is available here.
We believe that it takes enormous courage to speak out against maltreatment and that more needs to be done to ensure the safety and well-being of all participants in our sport. In Ontario, the Safe Sport Strategy Working Group has been engaging our membership since last Fall through surveys and virtual workshops to create a Safe Sport Implementation Strategy. We are in the process of finalizing our approach and will be sharing our plans with our community over the coming weeks.
We can tell you that OAS is determined to become a leader in getting and acting on feedback and, to this end, will be establishing an Athlete’s Council and introducing regular town hall forums for coaches and parents to discuss topics that are important to them and to meet and connect with each other and OAS staff, committee, and board members. We will be introducing and providing new training for our club partners, coaches, athletes, and other stakeholders on important topics like equity, diversity, and inclusion, and we will be prioritizing mental and physical health through increased education and awareness, and the expansion of our current concussion resources to include mental and physical health more broadly.
We encourage you all to visit our Safe Sport hub to access safe sport resources; information is updated regularly so please check back frequently. It’s here that you will find contact information for the OAS independent third party Safe Sport Officer, Brian Ward of W&W Dispute Resolution Services. His team includes female investigators and provides support services in both official languages. We encourage anyone in our community who believes they have been abused, harassed, or maltreated in our sport to connect with Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org who will help you identify the best process to deal with the situation.
As leaders in this sport, we have been committed for some time to transform our sport by making it more inclusive and less about the aesthetics. We stand behind all our athletes, coaches, and others in our community who want to create a healthier environment where all athletes are celebrated and inspired to elevate their performance through age appropriate and positive coaching and instruction.