Canadian gymnasts are calling for an independent judicial investigation

If sports have silenced athletes, then the speakers before federal elected officials have all called for an examination of this independent judicial investigation by an independent third party. This is a prerequisite for the transition to the sources of this system, which, according to them, has long put the image of the federation ahead of the safety of athletes.

Long abandoned by Canadian gymnastics leaders, 500 gymnasts signed the open letter sent to the Federal Minister of Sport, Pascal St-OngeToday, to demand an end to the toxic culture that has pervaded gymnasts for the past decades, we want justice for what they suffered when, for many among them, they were children.

Among the criticisms formulated by the founders of Gymnastics for Change in Canada, Amelia Klein and Kim Shore, is the rupture of the bonds of trust between athletes and the Canadian sports system, which, they say, has avoided looks for too long to protect its interests and the image of the federations.

He did not give up on the judicial system during the first day of the hearings.

The legal system has betrayed sports. The legal system has betrayed gymnastics […] The complaint process is so arduous and traumatic that people give up due to lack of energy.

She herself was a victim of abuse when she was a gymnast, and Kim Shore, now the mother of a gymnast, laments the slight change in complaints handling in the country. Shore and his colleagues also point to the lack of a national registry for offenders, which could be useful to federations and parents of athletes wanting to know a coach’s background, especially to avoid finding themselves on the job after being convicted of crimes. abuse.

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What survivors have not yet faced is a form of accountability in Gymnastics Canada for those who have been involved in cases of abuse or who have covered up the abuse. We hope that this committee will hold these people accountable.

We expect our call for an independent forensic review to be successful. Gymnast for Change Canada has received so much attention, it’s time to take action. »

Quote from Kim Shore, co-founder of Gymnasts for Change Canada

Besides the apparent betrayal of trust, the stakeholders present before the Standing Committee on the Status of Women unanimously demanded that the abusers and their accomplices be brought to justice. A necessary first step to reassure parents of gymnasts and youngsters who want to play the sport in complete safety.

There must be an independent judicial investigation. First, to understand the abuse that has been committed in Canada, and then take action, suggested Global Athlete CEO Rob Koehler. Those responsible for this violation must be held accountable and removed from the sport.

For lawyer Amelia Klein, Canada should take inspiration from countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom or Switzerland, which have chosen to put the fun of young athletes at the heart of their politics. This change in culture will promote better stewardship of younger athletes.

Switzerland has issued a strong report on its sports discipline, especially in the field of gymnastics. There is less focus on majoring at a very young age and more on joy and value, Amelia Cline rejoiced. It’s a cultural shift we need to reflect on in Canada. To see sport, not the pinnacle of winning an Olympic medal, should be something considered a lifelong passion. This is the kind of cultural shift that will change politics.

Women and Sport Canada executive director Alison Sandmeyer-Graves also attacked Own the Podium, which plays an important role in funding Canada’s national federations. The funding criteria for this entity, according to them, should be revised in order to better encourage a healthy culture within the Canadian sports community.

There is a huge envelope of money that Own the Podium runs, giving away millions of dollars to national sports organizations. This money should be linked to values, not just medals. It is an important lever for change.

The Standing Committee on the Status of Women will hear upcoming speakers on Thursday.

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