Allegations of Abuse | Canadian Gymnasts Demand Freezing Funds for Their Sports

More than 500 Canadian gymnasts are calling on the Canadian Sports Minister to freeze funding for national sports organizations.

Posted at 8:36

Lori Ewing
Canadian press

In an open letter to Minister Pascal St. Onji on Thursday, and four months after years of “sharing a devastating story” of abuse, a group of 508 athletes, Gymnasts for Change. Is repeating the call for strict measures.

This includes third-party investigations and suspension of funding, as was done in Canadian hockey.

Their first request, made a few months ago, was ignored by Gymnastics Canada (GymCan), Sport Canada, “now causing great damage to your office and to children’s gymnasts across the country,” the group said. Says.

The letter arrives a week after a trainer in Lethbridge, Arta, was charged with sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl.

“For the past four months, we have publicly exposed our souls and shared stories of the devastating treatments we received in the hands of our sport,” the letter says. We have called for an independent third-party investigation to address the systematic culture of abuse that is prevalent in Canadian gymnastics. »»

GymCan recently announced that it has asked McLaren Global Sport Solutions to conduct a “cultural review” of the National Sports Federation. However, the gymnast rejected the study. Because it was “purchased and paid by the very organization that must be the subject of the investigation.”

The gymnastics group, which originally had 70 members three months ago, should stop funding to prevent taxpayer money from being spent on what is considered a harmful review that has no effect on survivor experience. I’m looking for it.

St-Onge has frozen funding for Hockey Canada after a state organization has dealt with alleged sexual assault and out-of-court settlements.

Thursday’s letter noted that Gym Can and Sport Canada were aware of a number of possible abuse complaints. Ian Moss, CEO of GymCan, told Vicki Walker, Executive Director of Sport Canada in August 2020, in a recent TSN newsletter: »»

In April 2021 and again in December, the GymCan Board was urged by survivors to begin an independent third-party investigation into the sport.

The gymnast issued the first open letter on March 28, urging Sports Canada to proceed with the investigation.

“According to this timeline, GymCan and Sport Canada were aware of allegations of systemic abuse in gymnastics and had the opportunity to act for at least two years, but did nothing and abused Canadian child athletes without intervention. We were able to proceed .. We wanted a better, more urgent response from you. ”

According to Thursday’s letter, the email to St-Onge was unanswered.

“To date, your office has not taken steps to hold GymCan or Sport Canada accountable, and all those who presided over this crisis of abuse remain in an authoritative position,” gymnastics said. The player is writing. There was no accountability or meaningful action … I don’t know if starting the requested investigation prevented this latest example of catastrophic abuse (lethbridge).

“But your negligence sends a clear message to all young gymnasts that their sports abuse is not worth your attention. Your negligence sends gymnastics to all invaders and predators. Send a message to the invaders that the season is open. Your negligence will send a message to all the co-conspirators of these abuses that they will not be held liable if they close their eyes. Send. Your lack of action makes you more and more colluding. »»

Gymnasts say that if a third-party investigation not only provides information to help end their sport abuse, but also allows the toxic culture to continue, the government will hold them accountable. Can be sent to all sports organizations.

Sarah-Eve Pelletier, Canada’s first Sports Integrity Commissioner, began processing on June 20 after receiving complaints of sports abuse. She was expected to be flooded with complaints shortly after opening, but it was unclear if historical complaints could be heard.

“Our shared experience of emotional, physical, psychological and sexual abuse holds the precious truth that we really have to reveal in order to really change things,” said the gymnast. Is writing. Survivor stories need to be investigated to understand how abuse has been rampant in the Canadian system for decades. To ignore the past is to risk repeating it. And now, at gyms across Canada, the past is repeating. Abuse is repeated. And the children pay the price.

“We need the Minister of Sports to work with us to start a long-deferred investigation. To start the long-awaited investigation, the Minister of Sports needs to work with us. Children in Canada Our safety depends on your actions and courage. ”