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Not surprisingly, many new immigrants coming into Canada find it difficult to find social acceptance.  Although language is typically the key factor, free time and cost of social activities are often seen as obstacles that prevent our new Canadians from participating in local sports.

Family time on the ice
    Family time on the ice

In a national study Playing Together, new Canadians were polled from across Canada to see what local sports interested them and what sports they would actively participate in. It is no surprise that soccer (football as it is known outside of North America) had an overwhelming response of 80%.  However, it is interesting to note that Canadian hockey was right behind with 71% of those polled showing interest in our national sport. Both basketball and Canadian football were close third- and fourth-place contenders. 

The study goes on to identify that structural challenges are most commonly viewed as barriers that prevent participation rather than cultural ones. As a very culturally diverse nation, Canadians welcome new participants in sports at all levels.  The infographic from the study illuminates this further and shares how Canada’s sports organizations can more effectively engage new Canadians as participants and fans.

As an immigrant from the UK myself, my parents were “horrified” at the notion of strapping on steel blades to my feet to race across a sheet of ice. Today, my children could skate much better than I almost as soon as they could walk!

Involving our children in sports at a young age can certainly help all newcomers learn about Canadian culture and overcome the social barriers that new Canadians face. For transferees, an emphasis on employee and family support can help the entire family make a successful transition. 

About the author

Paul Harvey

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