Canada Artistic Swimming plans to ‘rip off the band-aid’ to create better environment

Canada Artistic Swimming plans to ‘rip off the band-aid’ to create better environment

Canada Artistic Swimming says it plans to “rip off the band-aid” in a widespread effort to build a better culture and safer space for its athletes.

The national sport organization released results of an independent investigation on Friday, after complaints of harassment and a culture of fear in the team’s training centre in Montreal.

While the investigation, which included interviews with all 18 athletes, plus 10 members of the coaching and support staff, found no instances of physical abuse, sexual abuse or hazing, 44 per cent of respondents said they’d witnessed or experienced psychological abuse by coaches, staff or other athletes, while 39 per cent of respondents said they’d witnessed bullying.

Jackie Buckingham, CEO of Canada Artistic Swimming (CAS), said this is an opportunity for change.

“We’re going straight through the organization, right down to the club coaches that teach recreational programming, everybody is going to be impacted by this,” Buckingham said. “Because we really believe that this is much bigger than just what’s happening at our national team. This is coaching in general, it’s coaching in our sport, it’s coaching in all sport.”

Montreal’s national training centre for the sport – formerly known as synchronized swimming – closed for the review, and will remain closed until the CAS has ironed out plans for its reintegration process.

“There’s a lot of emotional damage that’s been created, so we’re going to spend some time and try to rebuild those working relationships,” Buckingham said. “We’ve got a process of facilitated sessions that we’re mapping out, to work through what we know is going to be those emotional after-effects.

“So we haven’t put a target date on the return. We don’t want to put pressure on that process, we want that process to evolve at a pace that it needs to so when we do come back to the training centre, everyone’s in a good mental state… and some of those working relationships have hopefully been repaired to the point where when they do get in the pool there will be some trust again.”

There won’t be an immediate change in the national team’s coaching staff, however.

“The coaching staff will remain in place as CAS implements its action plan,” the organization said in a statement.

All national sport organizations funded by Sport Canada must adopt and integrate Canada’s new Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport.

The recommendations from the CAS review include improving coach and support staff’s commitment to reporting mechanisms; mental health awareness and education; diversity and inclusion awareness and education; harassment and bullying prevention; and coach education around respectful communication.

“The best thing that we can do is to take the opportunity that we have, and make the most of it,” Buckingham said. “Let’s reinvent our whole entire organization, because this is our one chance when the spotlight is on it. And we have a reason to bring this messaging through our whole sport, So we’re going to do it.”

With the COVID-19 restrictions, and the recent closing of the national training centre, athletes are largely training on their own in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Saskatchewan.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 30, 2020.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The revised plans for the Dream Centre feature a two-storey renovated building. The centre launched a campaign Monday in hopes of raising more than a million to help with building renovation. (Contributed image).
Red Deer Dream Centre launches campaign, hopes to raise $1.4M

The Red Deer Dream Centre (RDDC) is hoping to raise $1.4 million… Continue reading

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced more than 1,500 active cases in Alberta Monday afternoon and five additional deaths. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
COVID-19: Red Deer at 141 active cases

Central zone active cases up by 100 in last 24 hours

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Red Deer area seniors facility pauses visits after staff tests positive for COVID

A Red Deer County seniors facility has put the breaks on visitors… Continue reading

Alberta confirmed more than 1,500 COVID-19 cases Sunday

Alberta confirmed 1,584 COVID-19 cases Sunday afternoon. The total active cases went… Continue reading

Lynn Van Laar, chair of this year’s Christmas Wish Breakfast, said the event was planned outdoors to minimize the risk of COVID. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff
Outdoor Christmas Wish Breakfast helps central Alberta families this holiday season

The coronavirus pandemic isn’t going to stop children from having a merry… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pauses after responding to a question about the holidays during a news conference outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau joins G20 in promising COVID-19 aid to poor nations, rejecting protectionism

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined leaders from the world’s 20… Continue reading

Justice Minister David Lametti responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons, in Ottawa, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. The federal bill revising the rules on medically assisted death in Canada has raised the ire of the Canadian Psychiatric Association over the proposed law’s explicit rejection of mental illness as grounds for ending a patient’s life. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Exclusion of mental illness in assisted dying-bill slammed by psychiatrists

OTTAWA — The federal bill revising the rules on medically assisted death… Continue reading

The Quebec flag is seen on the podium as Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet responds to a question during a news conference Wednesday June 3, 2020 in Ottawa. Perennial anxieties around the state of the French language in Quebec have boiled over in the past week, with politicians seizing on a Liberal MP’s initial brush-off of the issue as evidence of indifference to a crisis. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Angst around French language boils over in Quebec, as politicians warn of ‘decline’

MONTREAL — Perennial anxieties around the state of the French language in… Continue reading

Numuch Keitlah, left, and Jake Thomas, centre, participate in a Coastal Nations search and rescue exercise off the coast of Vancouver Island in this undated handout photo. The recently operational Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary has more than 50 members from five Indigenous territories who are trained in marine search and rescue. They are on call day and night to respond to emergencies along some of B.C.’s most rugged and remote coastal areas. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Jordan Wilson *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Canada’s first Indigenous-led coast guard auxiliary patrols B.C.’s rugged coast

VICTORIA — The winds were gusting at 110 kilometres per hour and… Continue reading

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has sponsored the VanVleet Court at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford, Ill. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Fred VanVleet signs four-year, US$85-million deal with Toronto Raptors

TORONTO — Fred VanVleet, one of the most coveted players in free… Continue reading

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
‘Hardship is not a new thing:’ Nunavut fights COVID-19 as cases continue to rise

IQALUIT — It has been just over two weeks since Nunavut declared… Continue reading

Pedestrians walk past Pfizer world headquarters in New York on Monday Nov. 9, 2020. Despite recent optimism over reported results from COVID-19 vaccine trials,<br>Two companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have recently announced they're developed COVID-19 vaccines that are 95 per cent effective. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Bebeto Matthews
A long way from lab bench to bedside: Virus experts urge COVID-19 vaccine caution

Despite recent optimism over reported results from COVID-19 vaccine trials, virologists say… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
After COVID-related transplant delays, 16-year-old N.S. girl gets lung transplant

‘This is the difficult time now of seeing Tahlia in ICU hooked up to 15 IVs and sedated’

Most Read