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(Ottawa, ON – June 22, 2020) Our athletes are our pride and strength. We have worked hard over the years to make Water Polo Canada a sport organization that we thought was safe and welcoming for everyone, all skin colours, all backgrounds, and all identities. We now recognize that we fell short. Our actions and inactions have hurt people and athletes, included among them, one of the faces of our first Olympic women’s team Co-captain Waneek Horn-Miller, who was compelled to leave water polo before the end of her career. We sincerely apologize to her, and others who we have hurt and excluded. We are reaching out to our current and retired athletes to hear their stories so we can learn from them. Waneek has agreed to be one of the members of a Diversity Task Force we are forming immediately. As sport leaders, we have a responsibility to take concrete steps to eliminate systemic racism and to create a safe and welcoming environment for all. 

Over the past weeks, we took time to reflect as an organization and have some difficult, but necessary, conversations with members of the Canadian water polo community. We want to thank our athletes, including the Athletes’ Council, for being such influential leaders in and out of the pool. It is clear to us now; we, Water Polo Canada, need to do better. We have put together a five-step action plan. We are listening, learning, and receiving guidance from many in the water polo and sporting community, while also taking responsibility to educate ourselves and initiate change through concrete actions. 

 The following are the steps that Water Polo Canada is taking immediately to begin changing.

  1. WPC will form a Diversity Task Force to help us develop and implement a long-term strategy that delivers permanent organizational change, and help WPC become a leader in diversity and inclusion in the sporting community.
  2. WPC will review and update its current mission, vision, governance, policies and strategic plan to reflect our commitment to being an inclusive sport community. 
  3. WPC will include diversity champions to be active members of our board committees.
  4. WPC will mandate educational training for board members, management, provincial sport organizations (PSOs), team, coaches and athletes to address unconscious bias in order to create and sustain an inclusive sport community
  5. WPC will support clubs and PSOs in the creation of outreach programs to introduce our sport to Black, Indigenous, New Canadians, People of Colour, and other marginalized communities via funding available through sport development programs, including the Club Assistance Program (CAP). 

These actions are just the beginning; we will continue to have open and honest discussions with our community and beyond. Water Polo Canada’s Equity and Inclusion policies published in 2017 and 2018, will be reviewed as part of action item 2 of our plan to reflect our organization’s commitment to offering a safe environment for all. We understand that each individual is unique, and we must celebrate and make room for differences. These can be differences in race, ethnicity, gender, identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, religious beliefs, or political beliefs. We strive to be an inclusive and diverse sport community and to learn, grow and become stronger from varied perspectives and experiences.

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Water Polo Canada Communications