Curling Canada is on a mission to bring diversity and inclusion into sport |  CBC Sports

Curling Canada is on a mission to bring diversity and inclusion into sport | CBC Sports

Standing in front of a packed room of curling club managers, coaches, curling Canada officials and industry leaders at the Niagara Falls Hotel, Richard Norman delivered a keynote speech years ago in the making on Thursday morning.

With his voice trembling at times, Norman expressed his desire to make a change in curling – Norman specifically highlighted his work from early 2020 that focused on the experiences of people of color and their relationship to curling.

Norman had just completed his doctoral thesis on deconstructing curling cultures, focusing on race, whiteness, and colonialism.

Norman told CBC Sports: “There was a desire to do it in the beginning. But it was also in 2020 when everything was very new. The killing of George Floyd had just happened and people were excited and under lockdown conditions.”

“I think it’s pretty impressive that we’re having this now because two years later, it’s become the question of whether we still want to have this conversation. Is it really important? Have things really changed? I’d say no.”

Norman played a crucial role in helping organize a symposium held this week by Curling Canada called “Changing the Face of Curling.”

“We’re having conversations like never before at curling,” Norman said.

In a first-of-its-kind conference, Norman was joined by curling scholars, coaches, soccer and community members who engaged in panel discussions and conversations about how to grow the sport collectively in Canada by welcoming greater diversity and inclusion.

“The progress over the last two years has been amazing,” Norman said. “I think people who curling are ready for these conversations. They take on a different level of importance and gravity that allows us to do that in this space today.” .

Watch | Curling ambassador Melvin Lee strives to increase diversity in the sport:

Curling ambassador calls for more ethnic diversity and inclusion in sports

Melvin Lee joins us to tell us about how he was involved with the international curling teams of South Korea, and how he helped them build their first curling club and their favorite curling uniform.

Sitting among the audience, Melvin Lee couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with emotion as he listened to the speakers share their experiences.

He said, “Within my network, I’m the only Korean person who curls up. So yeah, I’d like to see my current community members roaming around. I just want to see more diversity, equality, and inclusion in curling clubs.”

“It’s early days but I’m happy with people being able to listen and ask questions. For a person of color these are powerful moments. The fact that they care. I very much hope this leads to transformative action.”

It was all white

Lee says he got into curling for the first time while living in Calgary and watching the 1988 Olympics. While he had a craving for curling, he said he was afraid of what awaited him at curling clubs.

“I was scared because everything was white,” he said. “Those first weeks were scary. Fortunately I developed friendships and relationships over time.”

“There is a lot of potential within the curling community.”

It’s this potential along with this ground-breaking seminar that motivates Curling Canada CEO Kathryn Henderson.

Two years ago in a CBC Sports story about the dominant whiteness in sports, Henderson acknowledged something that needed to be done to change the game and create space for more diversity and inclusion.

“What we want is a sports system in which everyone is welcome and all points of view are honored,” she said at the time.

“We have a long history of being inclusive but we need to be more intentional in communicating,” she said in a June 2020 interview.

On Thursday, two years after she said it, Henderson thought about the work they’re doing and the direction the sport is headed in.

“I love living on the edge of change,” she said.

“It’s been a wonderful journey over the past years for me. But we have to accept who we are. Take it in. These experiences are painful and I’m so grateful to the people who are here for sharing them with us.”

The seminar concludes on Saturday, with the past two days focusing on the next steps and how to put the talks and testimonies into tangible change in curling clubs across Canada.

2022-05-27 13:15:10

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