In June of 2018, Gail Kelly, Anna Prchal and Geneviève Simard, all former members of Alpine Canada’s junior ski team, took the unprecedented step of publicly revealing their identities as victims of sexual abuse that occurred while they were minors in the 1990s, in order to advance the important cause of removing all forms of abuse from amateur sport. Alpine Canada salutes their bravery and the importance of their actions.
With the same goal in mind, Ms. Kelly, Ms. Prchal and Ms. Simard instituted legal action against Alpine Canada in December of 2018 stating that they had been sexually abused by an ACA coach in the mid to late 1990s, and that ACA did not do enough to support and protect these athletes after the incidents came to light.
Alpine Canada wishes to recognize Ms. Kelly, Ms. Prchal and Ms. Simard, the others who came forward, and all victims of abuse in any sport. Although we cannot undo what happened, we feel it is important to recognize and acknowledge that instead of providing support when the abuse was discovered, Alpine Canada put itself first, not the victims. For this, we are profoundly sorry.
"We understand the devastating impact this had on Ms. Kelly, Ms. Prchal, Ms. Simard and the others. We wish to recognize their bravery in coming forward to ensure that sport is safe for future generations," said Martha Hall Findlay, Chair of the Board of Directors of Alpine Canada.
We have reached an out-of-court settlement of the lawsuit that is satisfactory to both parties. As part of this settlement, Alpine Canada commits to continue the efforts it has undertaken over the last number of years to take a leading role in making the sport experience free from physical, emotional and sexual abuse and harassment. We publicly reiterate our commitment to incorporating leading edge policies and processes, an independent pathway for complaints, a safety officer, training and education as well as ensuring compliance with national standards as they are developed.
Alpine Canada has made significant improvements to its safety programs and is committed to continue to raise the bar further. Alpine Canada is a signatory to the Responsible Coaching Movement and requires:
- Code of conduct for all ACA-CSC coaches
- Policies in place to recognize, respond to and report instances where the code of conduct has been breached, including a whistleblower policy
- Zero tolerance of athlete-coach sexual relationships
- All ACA staff coaches required to complete the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) module “Make Ethical Decisions”
- Mandatory harassment training for all ACA staff, coaches, athletes and contractors
- Rule of Two criteria for under 18 athletes
- Annual ACA-CSC coaching database updates to provide all Provincial and club partners a centralized location to review an active ACA-CSC member coach status to ensure they have met the requirements to be licensed, including the completion of a background screen, signature of the coaching code of conduct and the identification of coaches who have breached the coaching code of conduct
- Obligation by all those employed or contracted by ACA to report suspected abuse
Alpine Canada is also actively engaged in the current national initiatives to create a Canadian sport system-wide harmonized code of conduct which, once completed, we will adopt. We will also encourage our athletes, employees and contractors to use the Canadian Sport Helpline recently implemented.
"We want to work together with these women, with all of our stakeholders and with other National Sport Organizations to ensure that all Canadian athletes, regardless of their age, can participate in an environment free of abuse and harassment," said Vania Grandi, Alpine Canada CEO.