Power of Community Sport to Heal Social Disruptions

Sport underpins the unique connections and friendships which bring together a large part of the world’s populations.

In 2001, the united nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan, founded the office on sport for development and peace, noting that sport has “an almost unmatched role to play in promoting understanding, healing wounds, mobilising support for social causes and breaking down barriers”.

Sport is also the most unifying force in our communities. A good sporting event in many communities serves to bring the community together to cheer on their home teams with pride.  Additionally, although there is always fierce competition for championships, sport has always served to bring forward respect and friendship amongst all the participants.

Sport also teaches our young people many life skills that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives, even if they do not continue in a sport career. It also provides them with an opportunity to travel and to make new friendships. This all starts on the ground at the community level.

It is with these principles in mind that the Victoria Forum has entered into a partnership with the commonwealth games international federation.

The commonwealth games federation is in the process of creating an international restorative justice charter to address truth and reconciliation within the entire commonwealth sport movement.

The proposed charter will consist of four declarations developed over subsequent years with the first declaration related to the mistreatment of indigenous peoples being launched at the Victoria Forum.

This declaration will address the power of sport as a positive contributor to addressing historical and current issues that the indigenous peoples have faced in the past and continue to face on a daily basis. This will be done under the following four themes: respect, protect, promote and empower.

This declaration will also enhance the theme of the Victoria Forum 2020, which is bridging divides:  turf, truth and trust.

In May 2000, Nelson Mandela made the following quote. He said “sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand.  Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.  It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all kinds of discrimination”.

In this webinar, we will attempt to address following questions:

  • How can the power of sport promote peace and advance reconciliation?
  • How can sport be used to build bridges between communities in conflict?
  • How can sport help to heal and ease some of the anxiety that may be felt in the communities due to quarantines and lock down? how can it help to give the young people hope and inspiration and be a catalyst for bringing joy, laughter and happiness back to communities?
  • How can competitive sports help young people return to a sense of normalcy in post conflict and peace building contexts?
  • How can sport be used to convene intergenerational dialogue?
  • How can sport be used to reclaim spaces?

Webinar #4

Date: Thurs, July 9th, 2020
(9:00 a.m.)

The Virtual Victoria Forum 2020, the webinars and the Victoria Forum 2021  are jointly hosted by the University of Victoria and the Senate of Canada.

This webinar is presented in partnership with:

Founding partners:


Senator Chantal Petitclerc

The Honourable Chantal Petitclerc is not only an internationally renowned athlete, but also a compassionate person. When she was 13 years old, she lost the use of her legs in an accident. While Petitclerc was developing her skills as a wheelchair athlete, she pursued her studies, first in social sciences at the CEGEP de Sainte-Foy and then in history at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. She overcame adversity and many obstacles to become a proven leader in the sports world. Her gold medals in the Paralympic Games, Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games, the various awards and accolades she has received, and her appointment as Team Canada’s Chef de Mission for the Rio Paralympic Games are all markers of her success.

Her many achievements and her personal journey have also made her an in-demand public speaker, recognized across Canada. She has been the spokesperson for Défi sportif AlterGo for 17 years, and is an ambassador for the international organization Right to Play. A tireless advocate for the contributions people with disabilities have made to our society, she plays a definitive role in building a more inclusive society. Her example inspires people to overcome their obstacles and achieve their full potential.

Through her experiences, Senator Petitclerc has also learned a lot about the particular characteristics of various communities, as well as how decisions are made at the national level. As someone who has functional limitations herself, she has a good understanding of the needs of various minority communities and would like to ensure their voices are heard. The Senator is a Companion of the Order of Canada and a Knight of the Order of Quebec. She received the Lou Marsh Trophy for Canadian Athlete of the Year and was inducted into the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame. She has also received four honorary doctorates. In addition, Senator Petitclerc sits on various committees and boards of directors, where she provides her dynamic and unique perspective.


David Grevemberg CBE

Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF)

David Grevemberg CBE is Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), the organisation responsible for the Commonwealth Games, Commonwealth Youth Games and numerous other initiatives. Its vision is to build peaceful, sustainable and prosperous communities globally by inspiring Commonwealth Athletes to drive the impact and ambition of all Commonwealth Citizens through Sport.

David provides inspirational leadership of the CGF and ensures the development and delivery of strategic and operational plans consistent with the CGF vision, the CGF’s strategic plan (Transformation 2022) and the CGF Constitution and policies. Working closely with the President and Board, he leads the development and execution of the CGF and associated entities’ long-term strategies to create stable, sustainable and impactful delivery of events and programmes that align with the Commonwealth Sports Movement’s vision and mission.

David joined the CGF after serving as Chief Executive of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee.In that leadership role, he had ultimate managerial responsibility for the organisation’s successful preparation and staging of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. He oversaw the day-to-day operations of the company, overseeing recruitment of a workforce of 1,400 paid staff, 15,000 volunteers and 30,000 contractor roles. He was responsible for the procurement of over £300m-worth of contracts to support the delivery of the Games on time and under budget.

Prior to Glasgow 2014, David was the Executive Director of Sport and International Federation Relations at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) headquartered in Bonn, Germany. A former competitive wrestler, during his career he has also served as a coach, athlete agent, team administrator, consultant and Board member.

Dr. Wilton Littlechild

IPC, CM, FP, QC, LLD (hon)

Wilton ‘Willie’ Littlechild was born in 1944 and raised by his grandparents on the Ermineskin Cree reservation at Maskwacîs, Alberta. Guided by his grandfather’s traditional cultural knowledge from a young age, his grandmother also encouraged Willie to appreciate the value of a formal education. He attended residential schools from 1951 to 1964, and played a wide variety of sports, including hockey, football, baseball and swimming. Finding solace in sport helped Willie find the strength and resilience to endure an environment of institutional abuse and separation from his family.

Athletic pursuits taught Willie that with hard work and dedication he could excel and fulfill his potential, even in difficult circumstances. These lessons also shaped Willie’s approach to higher education. A diligent student, he attended the University of Alberta and earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1967, followed by a master’s degree in 1975. He also completed a law degree in 1976, becoming the first Treaty First Nation person from Alberta to become a lawyer. Wilton also became the first Treaty First Nation person to be elected a Member of Parliament in Canada, representing the riding of Wetaskiwin-Rimbey from 1988 to 1993. For over four decades he has worked with the United Nations to advocate for Indigenous sport and the global Indigenous rights movement. He also served as a Commissioner for Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and was named Grand Chief of the Confederacy of Treaty Six Nations in 2016.

While studying at the University of Alberta, Willie played for the Golden Bears hockey and swim teams and worked as student manager of the university’s football and basketball teams. Committed to empowering others through sport, he also founded and coached the first all-Indigenous junior hockey team in Alberta and organized referee and coaching clinics across the province. In 1967 and 1974, he received the Tom Longboat award, which recognizes the most outstanding Aboriginal athletes and their contributions to sport in Canada.

A pioneering role model, organizer and advocate for Indigenous sport in Canada, Wilton Littlechild has worked tirelessly over five decades to create new opportunities for Indigenous athletes. Notable examples of the many events and organizations he has helped establish at every level of competition include the creation of the North American Indigenous Games in 1990 and the World Indigenous Nations Games in 2015.

Willie was also inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.

Willie continues to promote Indigenous sport as an important component of reconciliation, community building and an enduring expression of cultural identity, offering young people in particular, a way “to honour the blessing that you have physically and then combine it with the mental, and the physical and the cultural, so that you have a wholesome foundation for life.”

Dr. Kevin Frey

CEO Right to Play

Kevin guides Right To Play’s long-term strategic direction and oversees its global operations.

Before joining Right To Play, Kevin spent 15 years in the higher education sector, most recently serving as Managing Director at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Kevin is also an ed-tech entrepreneur who is the Founder and Chairman of TeachAway.com, one of the world’s largest teacher recruitment and certification companies, and a Co-founder of Skooli.com, an online tutoring platform.

Kevin has an undergraduate degree with High Distinction from the University of Toronto, an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and Schulich School of Business, and a Doctorate in Business Administration from IE Business School in Spain.