Sport Edmonton

Under-Represented Populations

It's important that sport and recreation organizations reflect the diversity of the communities in which they operate, and have practices in place to help them achieve their inclusion goals

Reflecting Diversity in Sport

Barriers to Participation

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.”

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

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


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 here.

Within the review, organizations should consider incorporating the Canadian Paralympic Committee’s self-assessment tool 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.

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.

Advancing active living, active recreation and sport for all Edmontonians

Organization Resources

Edmontonians with Disabilities

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities describes persons with disabilities as those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others

Engaging Newcomers

By 2030, immigration will account for all of Canada’s net population growth. Edmonton is already being transformed as it grows to a projected population of two million within thirty years, and these demographic trends will undoubtedly impact the sport and physical activity system.

Girls & Women

Women and girls, who account for more than 50 percent of the population of Canada, continue to be under-represented in the sport and physical activity system. Awareness about biomechanical and physiological considerations unique to women and girls has increased, providing a foundation to improve training methods and competition programs for athletes.

Indigenous Edmontonians

“Indigenous” is an umbrella term for First Nations (status and non-status), Métis and Inuit. The traditional name of Edmonton is Amiskwaciy Waskahikan, meaning Beaver Hills House. This place was the traditional meeting ground for many Indigenous communities, including the Cree, Saulteaux, Nakota Sioux, Blackfoot and Métis Peoples. Edmonton also has a historic relationship with the Inuit, many of whom reside in Edmonton.


Much of sport is organized by sex or gender; however, not every athlete fits into or identifies with the binary of male and female. Creating welcoming, inclusive teams for the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans-identified, queer, intersex and two spirited community and allies is new territory for many sport organizations.

Sport for Development

The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development highlights sport as “an important enabler of sustainable development”. It recognizes the growing contribution of sport to the realization of development and peace in its promotion of tolerance and respect, and the contributions it makes to the empowerment of women and girls, young people, individuals, and communities, as well as to health, education, gender equality and social inclusion objectives.