A new research report reveals racism in Winnipeg's organized sport scene is common, systemic and having a profound effect on young lives.
Anti-Racism in Sport, a campaign led by Immigration Partnership Winnipeg, released Exploring Experiences of Racism and Anti-Racism in Sport in Winnipeg last month in partnership with the University of Manitoba.
It was informed by 12 online focus groups involving 39 participants who take part in Winnipeg sports—including athletes, coaches and officials—and gave their experiences of racism and insights on what should change.
"We're asking you not to view it from the lens of it just being research, we're asking you to listen to the voices behind what's been shared," said research assistant Craig Brown of the University of Manitoba during the virtual report launch.
Those voices tell the story of systemic racism in sport, Brown says, including racialized groups being refused access or overcharged for transportation or facilities, and a culture of minimizing or ignoring racist incidents when reported.
Brown cited examples of racial slurs and derogatory comments made, including fans telling players to go back to their own country and slurs used by coaches against their own players.
The report says most participants, racialized or not, identified a culture of exclusion and racism. It says repeated failures to address racism by managers, coaches, referees, and other persons responsible for organizing sports in Winnipeg creates a culture of silence and causes players to drop out of sport and school, impacting their life outcomes.
Anti-Racism in Sport, which is funded by Canadian Heritage, is offering initiatives to disrupt racism that align with recommendations in the report. These include free virtual presentations to students in middle school grades and educational training for sport stakeholders.
Daria Jorquera Palmer of Immigration Partnership Winnipeg said about 1,000 students have taken part in the presentations, which explain racism, its impact and what kids can do about it. The goal is to provide the presentation to 3,000 students by the end of March.
"It's particularly impactful because we not only have professional athletes as part of the presentations, but also a (racialized) community member," said jorquera Palmer.
Educational training for anyone involved in sport—including athletes, parents and coaches—offers anti-racism literacy and tools for taking action within sport.
Go to antiracisminsport.ca to read the report and view the campaign's public awareness video of Winnipeg athletes and others sharing their experiences of racism in sport.
Sean Ledwich, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leaf