Equity Diversity, Inclusion, Access, and Belonging

The words ”Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Access, and Belonging” have appeared much more frequently in the past few years. To enhance the client experience in recreation settings, including parks, community centres, and faith-based centres, attempts to make all people feel welcome and comfortable are critically important. In Canada, most Canadians (72%) have reported that they find physical activity and sport opportunities welcoming and inclusive to a moderate or great extent, and 62% find the opportunities accessible to a moderate or great extent (CFLRI, 2019-2021 Physical Activity Monitor, custom tabulation). Although these overall findings are positive, there are some differences in these perceptions with age and household income, which suggests room for improvement. We can further advance EDIAB by thinking carefully about hiring practices, retention strategies, physical and social surroundings, and organizational culture.

For 40 years, the Sport, Physical Activity, and Recreation (SPAR) sector has been addressing issues related to equity, diversity, inclusion, access, and belonging. Organizations like Canadian Women and Sport (CWS)[1], the Active Living Alliance for Canadians with a Disability (ALACD), and Active Aging Canada[2], along with initiatives such as the Affordable Access to Recreation for Ontarians Policy Framework by Parks and Recreation Ontario, and Sport for Life’s All Newcomers to Canada: Creating Inclusion of Newcomers in Sport and Physical Activity, have prioritized boosting participation in SPAR among equity-denied groups to address equity issues. However, the pandemic made evident that our efforts have not resulted in full inclusivity. Initiatives that make opportunities for sport, physical activity, and recreation more equitable are still needed. We must also continue to develop an understanding of how intersectionality (the overlay of social identities – e.g., race, gender, age, ability) can impact how people differently experience discrimination. .

Of note:

  • A report from the Centre for Sport Policy Studies, The Implications of COVID -19 for Community Sport and Sport for Development, emphasizes that socio-economic status is the strongest determinant of health and the strongest determinant of participation in recreational sport and physical activity. It is critical, therefore, for the sector and its allied partners to work together to address program funding and policies that address socio-economic status, which often also relate to other equity-denied groups.
  • Racism in our community remains a significant issue in Canada. Providers in the sector have an opportunity to address racism through programs, policies, and workforce recruitment and retention strategies. These strategies should include education of recreation professionals about the cause and effects of racism in the sector and their role in preventing it. The sector must respect the expertise of people with lived/living experience.
  • During the pandemic, a significant number of Canadians moved from large cities to smaller population centres, and many moved to different provinces. The sector should seek additional information about these migration patterns to understand both the challenges and opportunities to recreation delivery, particularly in rural areas.

[1] Formerly the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport (CAAWS)

[2] Formerly the Active Living Coalition for Older Adults

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