Letter to Our RCA Community

The Rowing Canada Aviron (RCA) Board of Directors would like to address our members to inform them of our commitment to collaboratively and meaningfully address issues raised while building on the continuing efforts that the leadership group has undertaken and achieved.

The RCA Board received several letters in late 2021 and early 2022 from members of our community expressing concerns regarding the governance, management, and high-performance aspects of the organization. Issues included deep concerns about the high-performance training environment and its oversight, transparency in communications, interpersonal issues, unclear roles and responsibilities, and unclear complaint management processes.

We experienced RCA’s cultural strength through our Strategic Planning consultation process in 2020-21, our community wide COVID response, and our Olympians and Paralympians in Tokyo, and we also recognize areas that require improvement. Throughout the strategic planning engagement process, we heard that having strong policies and procedures in place, while essential, is only the starting point. We must also work collaboratively with our member communities to modernize our governance systems and processes, and to foster the sport environment we want. Importantly, we must also continue to educate our community to ensure a collective understanding and commitment to safe and respectful training and workplace environments, including knowing what to do when people feel unsafe or maltreated.

As an organization, we understand our duty of care to our membership. We are committed to creating a healthy and respectful environment where our members feel confident to lead, compete, and coach. We are committed to ensuring that RCA fosters respectful interactions between all participants, free from all forms of harassment and abuse. The safety and well-being of all RCA athletes, coaches, staff, umpires, and volunteers is of utmost importance.

We are grateful to those who have shared their comments, experiences, and concerns. We are listening and we want to work with you towards a healthy and inclusive culture. We empathize with your experiences, and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we address the concerns in a manner that reflects our values and due diligence in the following ways:

Commitment 1: To continue communicating the RCA Safe Sport initiatives related to maintaining a physically and psychologically safe high-performance environment, RCA commits to the following:

  1. In the context of Safe Sport, providing enhanced trauma informed training and care for athletes and staff.
  2. Greater gender equity and diversity in coaching and throughout the organization.
  3. An enhanced process for upholding the Rule of Two.
  4. Clear communication and education with respect to RCA’s Independent Third Party role and process.
  5. Greater transparency and accountability in processes for hiring HP coaches.
  6. Greater transparency and accountability in the processes for HP athlete selection.
  7. Comprehensive suites of orientation and exit processes and resources across the organization.
  8. Creating avenues and events for Alumni involvement with RCA.

Commitment 2: To conduct an Independent Review and involve stakeholders in a Review Working Group:

  1. The Board will issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for an Independent Review of RCA’s HP programs and a review of our systems, structures, and policies related to governance, and management. An Independent Review identifies organizational concerns, deficiencies, and/or aspirations and sets out recommendations for addressing gaps and improving processes. The purpose of an Independent Review is to collect information and documentation, analyze that material, and extract learnings in a final report which will guide the necessary changes to address specific issues.
  2. The RFP will contain the scope of work, selection process, and deliverables. The objective is to commence the review process by end of March 2022. The selected Reviewer will arrange an anonymous mechanism for providing feedback directly to the Reviewer.
  3. Once the RFP has been circulated, RCA will share a Call for Expressions of Interest inviting diverse community participation in an RCA Review Working Group.
  4. The RCA Review Working Group will advise and liaise with the RCA Board regarding the Independent Report recommendations. The RCA Board will then provide updates to the rowing community.
  5. As required, RCA will engage experts to support the implementation of the recommendations emerging from the Independent Review.

Commitment 3: To continuously improve RCA’s governance:

  1. The Board will distribute a call for expressions of interest to join the Governance and Policy Committee of the Board.

RCA Board members, staff, and coaches want to lead rowing in Canada as trusted partners and role models. We will strengthen our culture by living our values of diversity and inclusion, collaboration, accountability, creativity, and passion through engaging an independent review of the organization and working to ensure all of our structures, practices, and behaviours align.

Questions can be directed to:
Carol Purcer, President president@rowingcanada.org

Sincerely, RCA Board of Directors
Carol Purcer – RCA President
Lindsay Bergen – RCA Athlete Director
Tom Hawker – RCA Director at Large and Treasurer
Carol Hermansen – RCA Provincial Director
Dana Thorne – RCA Director at Large
Jane Thornton – RCA Director at Large
Jennifer Walinga – RCA Director at Large

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