‘Lots of work to do’ as Curling Canada aims to eliminate dominant whiteness of sport

A couple of decade in the past, Rayad Husain was interviewed for a narrative in certainly one of Canada’s nationwide newspapers about why curling was nonetheless missing variety.

The story got here on the heels of a examine launched in January 2011 during which College of Waterloo professor Heather Mair took a detailed have a look at problems with variety in Toronto’s curling golf equipment – the paper discovered curling officers wanted to make it simpler for newcomers to search out out concerning the sport.

Husain, 35, is of Guyanese descent and was born and raised in Toronto. He stated then it was no secret curling was a white individual’s sport.

CBC Sports activities contacted Husain lately to see what’s modified over time.

“I do not know what to say. Throughout the board it is nonetheless fairly dire. Not a lot has modified in any respect,” Husain stated.

Husain has been curling out of the Chinguacousy Curling Membership in Brampton, Ont., for almost twenty years. He stated he noticed the game for the primary time when he was 11 years outdated whereas his dad was flipping by means of the TV channels.

Guyanese nationwide roller Rayad Husain, proper, says “not a lot has modified” since 2011 examine discovered curling officers weren’t succeeding at making the sport seen sufficient for newcomers. (Alina Pavlyuchik/World Curling Federation)

He additionally stated Rudy Ramcharan, a Trinidadian roller who gained a Brier with Kevin Martin in 1997, performed a giant function in rising his curiosity in curling.

“Rudy was throughout our Caribbean newspapers,” Husain stated. “That spurred a whole lot of dialog. It is a matter of seeing your individual taking part in it.”

Husain now represents Guyana at world curling occasions. He hopes his being on the ice will assist others like him to need to take up the game.

Aiming for inclusion

Curling Canada can also be making an attempt to determine methods to draw newcomers and folks of various ethnicity to curling.

“I am motivated to do one thing in all probability extra so now than ever,” Curling Canada CEO Katherine Henderson stated to CBC Sports activities.

Henderson took over as CEO in 2016 and has been a driving pressure in creating change inside Curling Canada. She achieved pay equalization between the Brier and Scotties final season and now has her sights set on attracting extra variety to curling.

She is aware of it will not be simple and says she’s in a listening and researching mode proper now making an attempt to know easy methods to higher serve ethnic communities.

“What we wish is a sports activities system during which everyone seems to be welcome and the place all views are honoured,” she stated. “Now we have a protracted historical past about being inclusive however we must be extra intentional about reaching out.”

Henderson factors to curling’s roots in Canada starting in farming and rural communities and that the game is deeply entrenched in custom and legacy – Henderson says even the language used round curling may be isolating to many teams.

“Curling is extremely overdeveloped in Canada however very overdeveloped in rural farming communities,” she stated. “I believe even easy issues like calling curling centres ‘golf equipment.’ It is a centre the place individuals curl. Getting away from phrases like members and golf equipment.”

Welcoming an immigrant viewers

As attendance at curling occasions over the past decade in Canada has dropped and variety continues to be a difficulty, Henderson says it is the immigrant inhabitants within the nation that won’t solely save the game however take it to a brand new plateau.

“I’m completely satisfied of that, that immigrants will take curling to a distinct degree in Canada,” Henderson stated. “Immigration is actually necessary to us as a rustic and it will be actually necessary to us as a sport.”

Henderson is optimistic the work they’re doing now by means of applications like Rocks and Rings, which exposes as much as 1 / 4 of one million youngsters to curling in faculties yearly, can pay dividends within the years to return.

“What we have been doing over the past variety of years, particularly since I have been right here, is actually doubling down and spending some huge cash to ensure any child that wishes to twist, can accomplish that,” she stated.

The Rocks and Rings program brings curling to elementary faculties and exposes the Olympic sport to upwards of 1 / 4 million youngsters every year. (rocksandringscurling/Instagram)

Whereas all of it sounds good, Richard Norman stays skeptical.

“Curling Canada has its work minimize out for it,” he stated.

“Curling Canada must take motion. It may possibly’t simply be, ‘we have to save the game by having new immigrants.’ What are they actually doing to encourage connections with these communities and understanding what they want?”

Additionally from the College of Waterloo, Norman lately accomplished his doctoral thesis deconstructing curling cultures, specializing in Race, Whiteness and colonialism.

“If you begin to have a look at curling, these issues begin to bounce out fairly plainly,” he stated.

Victorian values, Scottish paraphernalia

Norman says from bagpipes to Victorian values to Scottish paraphernalia hanging in curling golf equipment, there are a variety of deeply ingrained traditions white individuals do not even think about when they consider the game however generally is a barrier to people who find themselves racialized.

“It is to not say bagpipes in and of themselves are oppressive, however what that represents to anyone who is just not Scottish – would not have any European background – taking a look at this and saying, ‘that is now one of many traditions I’ve to take part in,’ is just not reflective of my background in any respect,” Norman stated.

“Now we have to check out how the dominant whiteness inside Canada continues to be prevalent in the present day. It is to not say we’re carrying this ahead in curling in a selected method, it is actually to say it is deeply entrenched in Canada and there is a sure degree of privilege that occurs inside it.”

Norman says whereas the curling neighborhood has been having conversations round variety, it is challenged by easy methods to tackle it.

Norman provides discussing race brings a degree of defensiveness, however says that is the place the dialog wants to start out.

“For instance, as a Black man, if I am sitting in a curling membership and having a dialog with somebody and so they say, ‘I do not care what color you’re,’ they do not notice it has a racial overtone that they do not intend. You may’t simply say this stuff. There’s plenty of work to do.”

Curling and the individuals who love the game, like society, are having to look inward at inclusivity and systemic racism – and whereas Norman says the language and optics of curling have at all times centred round welcoming everybody, it hasn’t lived as much as that mission.

“Are you actually doing it for the good thing about these communities or are you doing it for the good thing about the game?” Norman asks.

“It is about listening, respecting and honouring these communities and their wants.”

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