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Sport Supporting Change
More Than Just Words

September 3, 2020

The challenges of 2020 have been extraordinary but along with those challenges has been the odd moment contributing to positive change in the world. Sports figures have been at the leading edge of a movement meant to acknowledge that it's time for change: Black Lives Matter.

At other times, protests would have faded away and people would be going back to the way they were. For some reason it feels different this time. As the Provincial Sports Organization, we see this as the perfect opportunity for self-reflection and to express and renew our commitment to ensuring an environment which supports inclusion for all individuals and groups interested in participating and pursuing excellence in sailing within Ontario.

Our current strategic plan includes making under-represented groups a priority for Ontario Sailing. "You never know where the next amazing coach, athlete or leader is unless you open your minds, hearts, and clubs and schools to everyone," commented Ontario Sailing's Executive Director Glenn Lethbridge. "Ontario Sailing sees sailing as an activity for everyone; any walk of life, able bodied, disabled, it does not matter. Once on the water, we sail as equals just like it should be in life."

If problems do occur, as they do in life, how are they handled? It starts from the ground up. Kids will be kids, but they will also be adults one day and learning about conflict resolution is a valuable skill not to mention the empathy that goes along with understanding the ramifications of inappropriate behaviour. Reflecting on a couple of isolated incidents in the past involving camp participants who were engaged in name calling and inappropriate behaviour, the staff at the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club, who publicize a 'zero tolerance' policy, were quick to respond. "When assessing a situation, the environment check comes first. Is anyone hurt physically and do they need medical attention? As we start running down the list of safety concerns, the situation begins to take form," said Joel Gunn, RHYC President. "There is usually more to the situation than what we see. We observe, ask questions, and listen. The seriousness of the dispute will guide us to the next steps. Our intent, in all matters, is to remain fair, respectful and do no harm."

As the National organization responsible for the sport in Canada, Sail Canada takes their role seriously and values the importance of offering a respectful and safe environment that is welcoming to all. Don Adams, CEO of Sail Canada, weighs in: "At Sail Canada we believe sailing is a sport for everyone; whatever your race, religion, culture, or sexual orientation. We will continue to work towards ensuring that everyone feels welcome and safe as they participate in sailing. We welcome any and all of your suggestions to ensure we have an all-encompassing sport."

Part of the infrastructure that is in place to support a safe and inclusive environment for participants is a solid coaching base. Good coaches are a result of passion for the sport plus coaching education. "The development of sailing instructors and coaches is a comprehensive process that includes acquiring teaching methodologies and understanding the developmental stages of young people. The goal is to ensure that all youth stay safe and have a positive experience while learning sailing," commented Cam Lymburner, Ontario Sailing Manager, Programs & Services "Strong coaching is fundamental to our mission of developing lifelong sailors. Instructor courses help develop core life skills beyond sailing, such as communication and people and time management."

"We need to grow our sport and we want to open it up to any and all who want to try their hand at the helm," offered Lethbridge who maintains his commitment to review and evolve through the following actionable steps and tools available to member organizations:
  • Provide tools and resources for feedback processes for organizations' members and staff,
  • Work towards finding appropriate tools for organizations to educate their staff in Diversity/Inclusion/Empathy training and institute training and discussions with Ontario Sailing staff and volunteers on these topics,
  • Promote the use of Codes of Conduct and support members in their implementation,
  • Continue to review and evolve policies and provide support for clubs to do the same.
One of Canada's bright lights in the sailing world is Olympic hopeful and 2019 Pan American Games Lima champion Sarah Douglas, who offers her view from a lifetime in sailing: "Sailing has allowed me to be 'unapologetically myself' and push the envelope and speak up for women, diversity and inclusion in sport. I am grateful to the sport and credit my involvement with gaining valuable life skills like leadership, confidence, organization and being a team player. Sailing has given me everything!"

For more information, visit the Ontario Sailing website https://ontariosailing.ca or follow us on social media: Facebook https://www.facebook.com/OntarioSailing and Twitter @ontariosailing.

Annual General Meetings
COVID-19's Impact

One of the many ways COVID has impacted our normalcy is by forcing a need to rethink how we ensure our club's governance happens as legally required and to ensure ongoing smooth operations of our organizations. Whether your AGM is normally held in the spring or fall, it has likely been impacted.

Some points to be aware of related to your AGM:
  • You have 15 months from your last AGM to hold an AGM or if that was during the period of the declared emergency, you have 90 days from the end of the emergency (July 24th was the end, so AGM before Oct 22nd, 2020).
  • As long as your Bylaws do not specifically say you cannot host your AGM virtually, you are permitted to consider virtual options.
  • Depending on the number of voters and space available, you could look at hosting a physically distanced AGM. Outside gatherings can have up to 100 people attend (including board, staff, etc.).
  • There are many online meeting options; the best one for your club may depend on many factors including the number of expected attendees.
There are some new resources in the COAST Resource Library to help you navigate hosting a virtual AGM and Boards are encouraged to reach out to Lisa with any questions for your club's AGM (lisa@ontariosailing.ca).
Ontario Sailing will be holding our AGM this fall virtually. Information will be sent to membership representatives as details are finalized.

Ontario Sailing Announces Continued Partnership with St. Lawrence Seaway / Hwy H2O

Ontario Sailing is happy to announce that St. Lawrence Seaway / Hwy H2O has confirmed their continued partnership with Ontario Sailing to help support the safe use of the waters in the Seaway Region of Ontario.  This marks over ten years of their valued and committed support.

The Great Lakes / Seaway System is a 3,700 km (2,340 miles) "marine highway" that extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes.  The binational St. Lawrence Seaway's 15 locks (13 Canadian and 2 American) serve as the linchpin within the broader waterway, connecting the lower St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes.

During the shipping season, more than 2,000 pleasure crafts of all kinds pass through the Seaway. Pleasure crafts are welcome, but they must be at least 6 M (20 ft.) in length and weigh over 900 kg (one ton). There are special docks and tie-up areas along the seaway for pleasure boaters, equipped with telephones, and Seaway staff will help with the tie-up in the lock chambers.

Ontario Sailing helps promote the System and continues to distribute copies of "The St. Lawrence Seaway Pleasure Craft Guide" at boat shows and from within their office.

For more information of the St. Lawrence Seaway, please visit their website at https://greatlakes-seaway.com/.  For information about HWY H2O, you can visit http://hwyh2o.com.


Updates regarding COVID-19 can be found on the front page of our website at https://ontariosailing.ca/feature/the-2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-information/.
We update this page on a regular basis so be sure to check back often.

Although the Ontario Sailing office is closed as staff participate in social distancing, staff can be reached directly by email.  A list of staff email addresses can be found at https://ontariosailing.ca/about/ontario-sailing-staff/  along with staff responsibilities.