Canada had a foreign-born population of about 7 million people, making 1 in 5 people in Canada Foreign-Born in 2011, which in about 20% of our entire population. With such a large population of immigrants, it is important that we facilitate ways of integrating them into Canadian society. Sport and Recreation is one avenue that can benefit the multiculturalism in our country.
Overview of Canada’s Multiculturalism Act
“Canadian multiculturalism is fundamental to our belief that all citizens are equal.”
- To support all of Canada’s cultures
- Assist members of all culture groups to overcome barriers to fulfill participation in Canadian Society’s
- To promote creative encounters + interchanges
- Assist immigrants in acquiring at least one official language
Although we have a Multiculturalism Act in place, there are no policies that promote opportunities for immigrants in Sport and Recreation activities.
The idea of multiculturalism is relatively well understood and accepted as a philosophical and policy framework, but it provides little if any direct guidance for service providers to follow, and ensure that programs and opportunities for immigrants are put in place.
The benefits of having sport and recreation opportunities for immigrants help ease in the personal transition to a new country, and also can be measured economically and socially as a whole community.
On the individual level, involvement in sports as athletes, coaches, participants and spectators is important for establishing community connections, continuing the activity they enjoyed before immigrating and partaking in a healthy lifestyle, not only physically, but mentally, socially and emotionally. Immigrating can be a stressful time, so sport and recreation can also help in creating a sense of belonging, providing a chance to develop new friendships and share cultures, and most importantly creating a sense of inclusion.
On a community level, economic and social benefits are more likely to be seen by having recreation and sport opportunities that allow immigrants to feel included and welcomed in their new society.
Economically, newcomers are crucial to a community’s development. By creating an environment that is welcoming and inclusive, communities will have the best chance of retaining citizens. With the increasing demand of attracting and retaining people of diverse backgrounds to key segments of the workforce, it is very important that communities have initiatives in place, such as sport and rec programs to promote this inclusiveness and welcoming communities.
Although Social benefits may be more subtle and difficult to quantify, they are intertwined with the economic benefits. A diverse, vibrant community is likely to attract more newcomers, and they are more likely to stay and settle in a community that is welcoming and inclusive, which in turn ends up contributing to the economy and diversity. Additionally, there is an increased sense of cohesiveness and belonging, safety and security are enhanced, and there is greater and more diverse involvement with the processes of community life.
We believe that individuals can only do so much and that the ultimate responsibility for inclusion lies with the sport and recreation organizations and with the government, both of which share the mandate of delivering sport in Canada. While the city’s have a growing number of immigrants every year and thousands of community partnership opportunities, it would be beneficial to have collaboration between non-for-profit organizations. For example, some of the sport and rec non-for-profits could collaborate with the non-for-profits that work with immigrants, such as church groups or community groups. This collaboration would promote and enhance sport and recreation opportunities for immigrants.
In the end it would allow Canada to grow as a country by facilitating everyone equally. We are known as a multicultural country, all we need to do now is change our policies to make all programs more inclusive and beneficial for a population as a whole.
Tirone, S., Livingston, L., Miller, A., & Smith, E. (2011). Including immigrants in elite and recreational sports: The experiences of athletes, sport providers and immigrants. Leisure/Loisir, 403-420.