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Canada Basketball launches Unified 2024, announces new Diversity Statement and equity commitments

Unified 2024


Apr 26, 2021

TORONTO, Ont. (April 26, 2021) – Canada Basketball announced Monday the launch of Unified 2024, a multi-year program designed to lead the organization’s equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives and establish the organization as a leader within the Canadian sports industry by 2024.

An organizational Diversity Statement has been established to demonstrate the intentions of this important initiative:

Canada Basketball is committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion, and firmly stands against any form of racism, discrimination, or harassment. As an organization, we are dedicated to ensuring that basketball is used to unify people and our communities from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

We will demonstrate this commitment by maximizing education and awareness opportunities, ensuring balanced representation, developing equitable policies and procedures, and by diversifying our suppliers and strategic partnerships.

As we continue to examine our corporate culture and reflect on the history of our organization, we recognize our room for growth and pledge to ensure that moving forward Canada Basketball fosters free, fair, inclusive, and equitable environments, both on and off the court.

We want our athletes, coaches, officials, staff, volunteers, fans, and supporters across the country, on every basketball court in Canada, to feel accepted and valued.

“The impact that we have off the court is just as important to our organization as the podium aspirations we have every time we represent Canada,” said Glen Grunwald, President & CEO, Canada Basketball.  “Basketball is as diverse a sport as you’ll find in Canada, but there are still many systematic barriers to break down.  We must continue working to ensure that an inclusive, equitable and diverse culture is ingrained in every aspect of Canada Basketball.”

“Over the last several months we have begun the process to closely examine our organization, from assessing our weaknesses to the initial stages of establishing a long-term plan that will guide our inclusion, equity and diversity initiatives moving forward,” said Grunwald.  “I’m proud of the work we have accomplished to date but recognize that we are only just getting started.”

Canada Basketball has also made several strategic commitments, which serve as indicators for the equity, diversity and inclusion outcomes that the organization will hold itself accountable to:  

- In collaboration with our funding partners, the Canada Basketball Foundation will issue grants to support BIPOC youth and basketball organizations in providing more access to the game.

- As announced as part of the Mad Love campaign, Canada Basketball will launch the first girls Junior Academy program later this year, which will address a gap in the organization’s current program offerings.

- Canada Basketball, in partnership with its Foundation, will establish the “First Whistle” program which invites young players to become basketball officials by removing financial barriers to certification.

- The organization will work closely with the high performance programs to ensure that gender equitable experiences exist across all travel, training and competition environments.

- As featured in the recent partnership announcement, both Sportsnet and Canada Basketball are committed to having balanced coverage and representation for all events hosted in Canada.

- The organization will regularly review its current policies and procedures to address any gaps or necessary revisions.

Canada Basketball is being guided by its Unified 2024 Advisory Council.  The council’s mandate is to advise and hold Canada Basketball and its stakeholders accountable to their inclusion, equity and diversity goals and objectives, while ensuring the organization continues to develop a cohesive and equitable culture.

From players and coaches, to officials and Provincial/Territorial Sport Organization (PT/SO) representatives, the Unified 2024 Advisory Council is comprised of the following leaders from within the Canadian basketball community from across the country:

- Rowan Barrett (Chair) – General Manager / Executive Vice-President, Senior Men's Program / Olympian / World Champion

- Natalie Achonwa – Two-time Olympian / Senior Women’s National Team / Minnesota Lynx (WNBA)

- Michael Bartlett – Canada Basketball President & CEO

- Nav Bhatia – Canada Basketball Global Community Ambassador

- Katherine Brien – Executive Director, Basketball Nova Scotia

- Jonathan Chang - Vice President of Strategic Partnerships & Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer at WRKOUT Media Ltd. / Former Director of Basketball Operations, NBA Canada

- Nadine Crowley FIBA Referee Instructor (Level 2) / Chair, CBOC Development & Education Committee

- Denise Dignard – Director, Women's High Performance

- Ardavan Eizadirad Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, Wilfrid Laurier University / Member, CBOC Development & Education Committee

- Greg Henhawk – Manager of Indigenous Projects, Sport for Life / Master Coach Developer (MCD) / Level 4 Basketball Coach

- Paul Jones – Canada Basketball Board of Directors / Toronto Raptors radio play-by-play

- Steve Konchalski – Men’s National Team Mentor Coach / Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee (1993) / Former Head Coach, St. FX Men’s Basketball

- Lizanne Murphy – Two-time Olympian / Senior Women’s National Team alumni / Manager, NSO Services, Canadian Olympic Committee

- Dwight Powell – Senior Men’s National Team / Dallas Mavericks (NBA)

- Pat Sherlock – Canada Basketball Foundation Board of Directors / President, Canada Goose International AG

- Paul Sir – Managing Director, 3x3 Basketball Development / Executive Director, Alberta Basketball Association

- Tamara Tatham – Two-time Olympian / Senior Women’s National Team alumni / Interim Head Coach, University of Toronto Women’s Basketball

- Trevor Williams – Senior Men’s National Team alumni / Founder and President, Trevor Williams Kids Foundation

Rowan Barrett, General Manager / Executive Vice-President, Senior Men's Program, serves as the appointed Chair of the Unified 2024 Advisory Council and will oversee the work and program outcomes.

“Canada Basketball is in the midst of its own self-assessment of its past and present in order to positively impact our future in the areas of equity, diversity and inclusion,” said Barrett.  “We have a significant vision that we are working towards, which will impact equity, diversity and inclusion in several key areas, including: education and awareness, balanced representation, hiring policies and procedures, supplier diversity priorities and strategic partnerships with other leading organizations.”

“We’ve had involvement across our organization, including the Board of Directors, executive team, staff, players, coaches, officials and alumni. In addition, a number of our stakeholders from across Canada have also joined with a unified vision to help eliminate discrimination and systemic racism from our work and play environments,” said Barrett.

To support the Advisory Council, affinity groups and committees composed of Canada Basketball staff and external leaders have been established to develop and deliver programming and policies in the months and years ahead, with an initial focus on under-represented and under-supported groups in Canada.

Work in the areas of inclusion, equity and diversity has been ongoing since June 2020 when Canada Basketball enlisted the support of Alex Ihama, President of the International School of Greatness (ISG)and one of Canada’s foremost consultants on corporate transformation, leadership, and diversity, to aid in this process, with a focus on corporate culture, leadership development and public image.

Prior to the formation of the Advisory Council, affinity groups and committees, Canada Basketball confidentially surveyed over 300 players, coaches, staff, PTSO members, officials and stakeholders to establish baseline data, metrics, targets and feedback.  A Diversity Charter and three-year strategy are currently in development.

Canada Basketball’s inclusion, equity and diversity work will extend beyond 2024, but will be directly integrated into the organization’s strategic plan in the future.  The current version, “Unifying Basketball Nation,” is set to run through 2024.