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Love of rowing is a language that doesn’t need words

A notable venue in the rowing scene of British Columbia, Burnaby Lake isn’t just good for major regattas and events. Tucked quietly beneath Burnaby Mountain, the lake boasts flat water and great scenery, something that makes for a great introduction to rowing. Since the Summer of 2022, the Burnaby Lake Rowing Club (BLRC) has worked in partnership with Rowing BC’s Grow Rowing initiative to create additional opportunities for low-barrier access to rowing at this great venue, in partnership with local organizations who already work directly with some of Burnaby’s equity-deserving groups.

Partnering with MOSAIC, an organization that focuses on newcomers to Canada, BLRC set up seven 3-week long learn-to-row programs for recent immigrants last summer. Each program was small, with 8-12 participants, to ensure all of them had hands on coaching.

Working with MOSAIC, who employs newcomers, BLRC was able to provide a safe and accessible learning experience for the participants. In May of 2022, the leaders of MOSAIC got the chance to participate in a learn-to-row session, each of whom were once a newcomer to Canada and got a job with MOSAIC to support those who are currently the position they were once in.

Alongside the newcomer program, BLRC also offered a mother and kids session. This session invited single and/or low-income moms to join a rowing and pilates session, while their kids were looked after by professional childcare providers in the Burnaby Lake Rowing Pavilion. 16 different moms, all new to Canada, had the chance to try a new activity in a safe and social setting.

Since the initial learn-to-row programs last summer, BLRC has had a turnout of over 150 participants to their programs, from all over the world. New immigrants from Ukraine, South Korea, South Asia, and more, all joined the various programs. Despite various language barriers and different abilities, the participants and coaches were able to communicate effectively simply through the enjoyment of sport.

“Sharing the love and excitement of rowing is a language that doesn’t need words,”

said BLRC Outreach Program Coordinator, Kiana.

BLRC coaches had to adapt their coaching styles to ensure each participant was getting a fulfilling session; an experience they say made them better coaches.

While the generous grants thanks to a partnership between Rowing BC and BLRC, supported by funding from the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association’s “Reaching Each and Every One Grant” helped make these programs possible, according to Kiana, the BLRC staff are very passionate about diversifying rowing.

“Rowing would benefit from more diversity, and we want to open doors for more groups to experience it.”

The hope for Burnaby Lake Rowing Club is to keep these programs running, not just to introduce communities to the sport of rowing, but also to grow their own club. The ultimate goal is to offer a pathway for participants to continue rowing at Burnaby Lake and continue to grow the sport of rowing.

Programs like these are heavily supported by grant funding and individual donations. You can make an impact through covering participant fees in Grow Rowing programs like these by making a donation today!

Give the gift of rowing: 

Rowing BC has partnered with the BC Amateur Sport Fund (BCASF) to raise funds to benefit our province-wide initiative to grow rowing. Eligible donations to BCASF to benefit our Grow Rowing project can receive a tax receipt.  Your donation will ensure that funding is not a limiting factor to how many new programs and experiences can be developed in a low-barrier way for previously under-represented groups across the province. By ensuring the real costs of a program like coaching, equipment, facility rental, coach boat gas etc. are taken care of, you are allowing local rowing organizations to get creative in how they run meaningful programming for new participant groups – whether their goal is to overcome a fear of water, try an outdoor sport for the first time, or begin the path to a future Olympics!

Donate today to be part of ensuring all British Columbians can discover, pursue and enjoy the sport of rowing.

Your support will be part of creating an opportunity for someone this coming season who otherwise wouldn’t be benefiting from all our great sport has to offer.

 The BC Amateur Sport Fund is the BC chapter of the Canadian Council of Provincial & Territorial Sport Federations, a Registered Canadian Amateur Athletic Association with charitable status (CRA number 88938 6868 RR0001). The BC Amateur Sport Fund is administered by Sport BC to promote participation, competition, and governance in amateur sport across Canada.

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