An important message to our members and partners
Athletics Manitoba has often stated that we value inclusion, but it is undeniable that we have substantial work still needing to be done.
It is extremely important that we clearly express that Athletics Manitoba stands with the Black community, and that we support the Black Lives Matter movement. We also want to emphasize that we will continue to do so even if the media and social media attention shifts.
Beyond those words, we have been looking internally to determine what that truly means in terms of the actions we must take moving forward. Sharing words of support and empathy, while well intentioned, is not what is needed. Our voice is not the one that needs to be heard right now, but we need to do the work and be held accountable.
We often want to think of sport as a welcoming environment where everyone has access to the same playing field. But we have to acknowledge that is not the case. Communities all across Winnipeg and Manitoba do not have nearly the same opportunities to succeed in Athletics. That is a fact. It is also something we are actively working to change. Much of our current sport system is built to provide services for those already IN the system. Engaging and welcoming new members, whether as athletes, coaches, officials or board members is of absolute importance for progress.
We also have to recognize that our shortcomings unfortunately also extend beyond the Black community. This work must include Aboriginal and Indigenous peoples and communities, people with disabilities and all people of colour. We absolutely must do more, and be better.
Please understand, this message is not something we take lightly, nor is it a box to check so that we can pat ourselves on the back for speaking out. Our actions must speak louder than words, but often in sport many actions take place behind the scenes and a lot of the groundwork necessary for change is quiet and not at all glamorous.
As employees and board members of Athletics Manitoba, we will continue to challenge ourselves, and our own privileges or biases. We will listen to each other by providing a space for everyone’s voice to be heard. And we will continue to work by learning from, supporting, encouraging and teaching one another.
That being said, in addition to work we must do internally and as a community, we also need to look beyond our office and our Board, for ways we can push for change elsewhere in our sport community. Meaning well and having good intentions is not good enough and we realize that we must use our position to push for changes at all levels.
Know that we are happy to discuss and collaborate with those who want to engage.
Know that we are committed to doing the behind the scenes work to be better.
Know that we will support our members and fight for change, both locally and nationally.
Know that we will have blind spots and that we will undoubtedly make mistakes.
Know that we will learn from them, and we will move forward together.
We know this message is not enough.
If you would like to discuss the work that needs to get done, or get more details on our current action items moving forward, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Yours in Sport,
Athletics Manitoba Board of Directors and Staff