Today Canada Artistic Swimming (CAS) announced the outcome of a comprehensive review of its national team training environment and the steps it plans to take to address the issues identified. The review comes on the heels of concerns raised by some of its athletes and club coaches.
“As soon as we were aware of the concerns, CAS immediately commissioned an independent review that took place over the past several weeks,” said Jackie Buckingham, CEO, Canada Artistic Swimming. “CAS has received the final report from the external review agency. We want to thank the athletes, coaches and external stakeholders who participated openly and positively in this review to help inform our actions moving forward.”
The report is posted on the CAS website. Its content was shared with all those who participated in the review and specifically with athletes and parents during a virtual session today, prior to its public release. While the report confirms there have been no instances of sexual abuse, physical abuse or any form of hazing in the training environment, it did identify several critical areas where improvements must be made.
Specifically, the report recommends implementing the following best-in-class safe sport practices:
- Increased and specific education and awareness of the CAS Safe Sport Program – for all participants – in particular the CAS Conduct Policy and the Discipline and Complaint Policy and process with focus on recognition and understanding of the definitions of areas of maltreatment in sport;
- Improvement in coach and support staff commitment to reporting mechanisms outlined in the policies;
- That coaches and others receive: mental health awareness education; diversity and inclusion education; training in harassment and bullying prevention; and
- Coach education around effective and respectful communication.
“CAS understands that the mental and emotional health of athletes, coaches and stakeholders has been impacted over the past several weeks and we will assess what expertise is needed to provide additional support moving forward,” Ms Buckingham added. “Only through listening and responding at each step will we continue to evolve a more welcoming and safe environment for our national training program.”
Based on the report and feedback from members of its sport community, the CAS Board of Directors has determined there are safe sport implications both within the training environment of its national centre and in the broader artistic swimming sport system. Therefore, it has determined to immediately take the following actions:
- Conduct specific, on-going safe sport education with CAS staff, coaches, athletes and all stakeholders through the development of curriculum designed to shift organizational/sport culture.
- Welcome the participants back to the high-performance training centre following the completion of several key reintegration components utilizing the expertise of trained facilitators.
- Extend the scope of its review to capture additional external input from those who shared comments through social media platforms. The aim is to capture details about any situation an athlete has experienced within their sport that they feel CAS should be aware of and that could inform policy, procedures or future safe sport related activity within the organization at all levels.
As an organization, CAS realizes that sport in general has changed over the past 20 years. Expectations for training and performance, coaching standards and teaching methodologies, and awareness about safe sport and conduct have evolved. CAS will continue to ensure our training programs reflect the current best-in-class safe sport practices.
“It is our belief that it is our responsibility to educate ourselves about the past, learn from those who have experienced it, and make a better future for the dedicated athletes at all levels who are in our collective care,” said Ms. Buckingham. “This is how we will lay the groundwork for our future.”
Information about the process that will be followed and how to contact the external agency collecting this additional feedback on behalf of CAS will be posted on the CAS Safe Sport page by December 1, 2020.
Media & Communications Consultant
Canada Artistic Swimming