Officials aim to ‘change the face of curling’ by welcoming greater diversity, inclusion

Standing in front of a packed house of curling club managers, coaches, Curling Canada officials and industry leaders at a hotel in Niagara Falls, Richard Norman delivered a keynote address Thursday morning that For years.

Voice shaking at times, Norman expressed his desire to bring change to curling – in particular, Norman highlighted his work from early 2020 which focused on the experiences of people of color and their relationship to curling.

Norman had just completed his doctoral dissertation on deconstructing curling cultures, focusing on race, whiteness and colonialism.

“There was an appetite to do this at the start. But that was also 2020 when everything was so fresh. The murder of George Floyd had just happened and people were galvanized and in lockdown conditions,” Norman said. at CBC Sports.

“I think it’s more impressive that we have this now because after two years it becomes this situation of asking if we still want to have this conversation. Does it really matter? Have things really changed? I say no.”

Norman was instrumental in helping to organize a symposium hosted by Curling Canada this week titled “Changing the Face of Curling”.

“We’re having conversations like never before in curling,” Norman said.

At a first-of-its-kind conference, Norman was joined by academics, coaches, curlers and members of the curling community who participated in panels and conversations about how to collectively grow the sport in Canada. welcoming greater diversity and inclusion.

“The progression over the past two years has been amazing. I think the people of curling are ready for those conversations. They take on a different level of importance and gravity that allows us to do that in this space today.” , said Norman. .

WATCH | Curling Ambassador Melvin Lee seeks to increase diversity in the sport:

Curling ambassador calls for more ethnic diversity and inclusion in the sport

Melvin Lee joins us to share how he got involved with South Korea’s international curling teams, how he helped them establish their first curling club, and his uniform of choice for curlers.

Sitting in the audience, Melvin Lee couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with emotion as he listened to the speakers share their experiences.

“Within my network, I am the only Korean person who curls. And so yes, I would like to see members of my immediate community curling. I just want to see more diversity, equality and inclusion in curling clubs,” he said.

“It’s early days, but I’m encouraged by people’s ability to listen and ask questions. For a person of color, these are high points. The fact that they care about me. I’m hopeful that it will lead to transformative action.”

“It was all white”

Lee says he discovered curling while living in Calgary watching the 1988 Olympics. While he longed to curl, he said he was afraid of what would happen to him. was waiting in the curling clubs.

“I felt intimidated because everything was white. Those first few weeks were intimidating. Thankfully over time I developed friends and relationships,” he said.

“There is so much potential in the curling community.”

That potential, coupled with this groundbreaking symposium, motivates Curling Canada CEO Katherine Henderson.

Two years ago, in a CBC Sports story about mainstream whiteness in sports, Henderson acknowledged that something had to be done to change the game and create space for more diversity and inclusion.

“What we want is a sport system where everyone is welcome and all perspectives are honoured,” she said at the time.

“We have a long history of inclusion, but we need to be more intentional about reaching out,” she said in a June 2020 interview.

On Thursday, two years after saying that, Henderson reflected on the work they’ve done and where the sport is headed.

“I like living on the edge of change,” she said.

“And it’s been an incredible journey over the last few years for me. But we have to accept where we are. To digest. These experiences are painful and I’m so grateful to the people here for sharing them with us.”

The symposium wraps up Saturday, with the final two days focusing on next steps and how to turn conversations and testimonials into tangible change at curling clubs across Canada.