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It's important that sport and recreation organisations reflect the diversity of the communities in which they operate, and have practices in place to help them achieve their inclusion goals. The Coaching Association of Canada has said that “inclusion must be a foundational pillar of our sport system” and that leaders must continue to implement “constructive ways to build inclusive and respectful sport experiences.”

Barriers to Participation

In 2015, Edmontonians identified the following as the top barriers that prevented them from being more physically active: 

1. Time constraints 6. Inconvenient or inadequate facilities
2. Cost 7. Family responsibilities
3. Location of facilities 8. Health reason
4. Availability of programs 9. Active transit issues
5. Weather 10. Motivation


In addition to the barriers identified above, barriers also exist due to culture, gender (identity), language, disability, or lack of familiarity with the Canadian sport and active recreation environment. Fewer women/girls participate in sport and active recreation than men/boys primarily due to psycho-social factors and programming choices. Recent immigrants may have language challenges, which cultural practices may also discourage participation. Disabled populations may experience access challenges and lack of appropriate programming. 

Intersection of Identities Diagram

Diversity is the range of our different identities, backgrounds, and perspectives. Each person has layers of identity that make their perspective unique. When identities overlap, they can create a cumulative disadvantage.

Inclusion creates an environment in which we all feel like we belong and are valued for our unique perspectives and skills. An organization can be diverse, without being inclusive. When an organization is inclusive, the diversity is implicit. If we want to be successful with inclusion, we must intentionally plan for it – if we are not specific and clear about how we create inclusion in sport spaces and places, we will continue to fail those on the margins.

Diversity and inclusion are linked. An inclusive organization or group is one that acknowledges and respects diversity, recognizes barriers to inclusion and works to actively meet the needs of individuals with varied and diverse backgrounds. In other words, diversity is the what, inclusion is the how.

Those organizations which do not include diversity and inclusion education and/or the outcomes of increasing social inclusion and equitable access to participation in their strategic plan will need to revisit their plan. To assist organizations strategic planning, resources and examples for the sport and active recreation sector are found at www.edmontonsport.com/organization_resources/strategic_planning.

Within the review, organizations should consider incorporating the Canadian Paralympic Committee’s self-assessment tool (https://paralympic.ca/diversity-and-inclusion-self-assessment) which is applicable to more than just parasport as it can help organizations to identify areas on where to start. Canadian Women and Sport has also created the Temperature Check self-assessment tool which helps organizations to determine where their current capacity in gender equity lies.


The Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion is a made-in-Canada solution designed to help employers, diversity and inclusion/human rights/equity, and human resources practitioners effectively address the full picture of diversity, equity and inclusion within the workplace. Their website features free educational guides, reports and toolkits to help the learner gain better understanding and become more proactive on any number of diversity and inclusion initiatives and concerns.

GEDI-Hub Logo

The GEDI-Hub resources page has fillable templates, toolkits, business cases for workplace EDI, and pre-recorded workshops to assist organizations and businesses to build a workplace EDI strategy. Each resource has been developed by experienced workplace EDI experts in partnership with leading academic professionals across Canada including the University of Alberta, University of Ottawa, and McMaster University.

Prior to undertaking addressing the issue of under-represented populations in sport and active recreation, organizations should understand how the status quo came to be, mistakes and successes of others, and paths to success. These important matters are explored by the Inmotion Network in three one-hour webinars.

Additional resources:
Kidsport Calgary and Edmonton Diversity & Inclusion in Sport Discussion Series

For currently available learning opportunities, check the Workshops, Conferences & Webinars page.

The Sport Information Resource Centre has posted two Sport Canada publications:

The following links provide information and resources for specific under-represented populations in sport and active recreation. Although using sport for development is less common in Canada, it may play a role in certain environments.