By Janessa MacPherson, Regional Sport Development Manager
I have worked at Sport Nova Scotia for 15 years and over that time I have seen lots of changes.
One of those changes came in January with the launch of a new funding program called Sport Fund – Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). This program supports under-represented communities in their efforts to increase participation in community-based sport.
The six regional sport consultants across Nova Scotia have been helping community sport organizations, stakeholders, and service providers focus on addressing barriers that deter participation. We are bringing organizations together to support partnerships, to discuss those barriers, and to find ways for more Nova Scotians to participate in and enjoy sport in their community.
We launched Sport Fund – EDI knowing that there was a need, but I think we underestimated the impact this funding would have in our communities.
Sport Fund – EDI has funded Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey for the Indigenous Girls Hockey program offered in various regions of Nova Scotia. The money for ice time and hockey equipment, and support for hockey leaders and communications, allowed 120 Indigenous girls from age six to 14 to play hockey. The funding also helped to build leadership in the community by having three administrators to support the program, seven on-ice leaders, seven junior coaches, and additional community volunteers.
Mahone Bay Soccer has been working with the Bayview Community School, Mahone Bay Centre, and the Town of Mahone Bay. The soccer club received Sport Fund – EDI funding to provide an all-inclusive, less intimidating soccer experience for free. By removing monetary barriers for equipment, transportation, and registration fees, more young people were able to enjoy playing soccer.
The Association of Nigerians in Nova Scotia applied for Sport Fund – EDI funding for the Dare to Dream Summer Camp in Halifax and March break camps coming up in 2023 in Cape Breton and the Fundy region. The summer camp had 113 registered participants in volleyball, soccer, athletics, and basketball. There were nine volunteers, four coaches, four facilitators, two site staff, and a project lead, all from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Chile, and Uganda.
The West Hants Regional Municipality applied for Sport Fund – EDI funding for adaptive try-sport programs after partnering with Autism Nova Scotia and the SMILE program at Acadia University. Funding supported leader/volunteer training workshops, such as Autism 101, Positive Effective Behavioural Strategies and Engaging EDI in Organizations. Funding was also used to buy equipment and pay for facility rentals.
During the summer months, after hearing from communities about the desire to fund community events, we expanded the Sport Fund – EDI funding program to include the Community Sport Events program. This funding focuses on communities that have a cultural tie to sport, where the community’s identity intersects with a specific sport activity, and provides a space for all community members to participate together.
Events that have been funded to date are the Black Lives Matter – In This Together Emancipation Run, the Eskasoni Mental Health Family Paddlefest, and Nova Scotians Helping Nova Scotians Association summer basketball camps.
It seems so simple, to work together to tear down barriers so more people can participate in sport, but this does not happen overnight. It takes time to build relationships and trust. It takes being open to difficult conversations to understand what the barriers to participation are and what the needs of the community are.
But this work is rewarding. Being able to drop in to these events or to receive photos from the organizations that received funding and to see the smiles on the faces of participants and leaders alike shows us that our role is important and that sport does make a difference.
For more on Sport Fund — EDI, and other Sport Nova Scotia funding programs, please visit https://sportnovascotia.ca/funding-programs-and-eligibility/