Female athletes get a $100K boost this holiday from Fuelling Women Champions

News Release Ottawa

Canada’s dairy farmers announce recipients of inaugural Champions Fund initiative

What started as a call to female athletes nation-wide, seeking stories of perseverance to pursue their passion for sport, has today culminated with the unveiling of 20 recipients of the inaugural Champions Fund, a new $100,000 grant program introduced by Canada’s dairy farmers designed to support girls and women across the country in achieving sports excellence.

The Champions Fund, unveiled in May 2016, saw an impressive 2,537 applications from female athletes across Canada, who submitted stories detailing their love of sport and their need of financial assistance to achieve their goals—all within the context of addressing the inequalities Canadian female athletes face versus their male counterparts. Among the applications are tales of amazing athletes struggling to make their sports dreams reality, with many telling the Champions Fund of their dire need for the basics: equipment, tournament fees, and access to training facilities. Financial assistance from the Champions Fund will help all recipients start 2017 on better footing, allowing them to focus on staying in the game.

“We are delighted to announce the recipients of the inaugural Champions Fund, which empowers the female athletic community,” says Caroline Emond, Executive Director, Dairy Farmers of Canada. “We are extremely proud to be able to support Canada’s female athletes as they pursue excellence through their love of sport. On behalf of DFC, I want to extend my best wishes to our recipients and hope that this national grant serves as encouragement for even more women and girls to get involved in sports.”

The Champions Fund is being distributed as 20 grants of $5,000 to youth sports teams, individual athletes and grassroots women’s and girls’ sports organizers across Canada. The process saw a shortlist of applicants selected based on a scorecard and the merits of their applications. Then, the Champions Fund Committee, a board of 11 individuals comprised of dairy farmers and Fuelling Women Champions stakeholders, ambassadors and partners, selected the 20 final grant recipients this month.

The list of 20 recipients includes athletes from all corners of the country, across a range of sports. Among their stories:

  • Speed skating phenom Wren Acorn, who plans to use her grant to access more races outside of her hometown Yellowknife, NWT. The Champions Fund now means she can travel to Edmonton for competition by air, instead of the 20-hour drive she usually has to endure.
  • Fourteen-year-old competitive swimmer and 2020 Olympic hopeful Mahaylia Datars, of Caledon, ON, whose mother, a single parent, has had to work two jobs to pay for her training.
  • The Team Canada Deaf Women Volleyball team, who have qualified to compete for Canada at the 2017 Deaflympics in Turkey. Assistance from the Champions Fund now allows them to compete for their country without the financial stress of paying for training and travel to the games.

The full list of 2016 Champions Fund recipients below:

Name Sport Location
Wren Acorn Speed Skating Yellowknife, NWT
Brooklyn Childs Hockey, Baseball Corner Brook, NFLD and Labrador
Erin Cope Skiing Kamloops, BC
Mahaylia Datars Swimming Caledon, ON
Egale Action Multi-sport Montreal, QC
Nagad Elmi, EMBA Basketball Edmonton, AB
Mariya Frolova Synchronized Swimming Laval, QC
Kaila Gavel Volleyball Prince Albert, SK
Halifax Xplosion Women’s Tackle Football Team Football Halifax, NS
Emeliah Harvie Road Cycling Banff, AB
Kamloops Triathlon Club Triathlon Kamloops, BC
KVGSA Softball Kennebecasis Valley, NB
LAWS Multi-sport Windsor, ON
Erica Navarro Soccer Edmonton, AB
Newcomer Sport & Multi-Sport Academy Multi-sport Winnipeg, MB
Northern Nishnawbe Education Council Basketball Thunder Bay, ON
Caroline Ouellette Hockey Montreal, QC
Alysia Rissling Bobsleigh Calgary, AB
Team Canada Deaf Women Volleyball Volleyball Montreal, QC
Carly Zanatta Rowing Fort Erie, ON

“Every single one of these athletes and organizations is a shining example of girls and women who possess a love of sport that fuels a dedication to excellence,” says Allison Sandmeyer-Graves, CEO,, Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS). “We congratulate them and all female athletes across the country who have stayed in the game, despite all the obstacles in their way.”

The need for this type of national grant program is crucial. According to a recent research publication entitled Women in Sport — Fuelling a Lifetime of Participation, which was commissioned by Canada’s dairy farmers, there is severe gender inequality for Canadian girls and women in sport. Among many negative implications, this ultimately results in a significant decline in female sport participation, especially as girls transition into adolescence. Among the research publication’s key findings: 41 per cent of girls between the ages of 3-17 years do not participate in sport — and this jumps to 84 per cent in adult women.

The Champions Fund, and the overarching initiative, Fuelling Women Champions, aims to inspire girls and women, regardless of age or ability, in local communities across Canada to realize the universal benefits of sport.

For more information, and to see the recipients’ profiles, visit www.womenchampions.ca/stories

Follow and join the movement online by using the hashtag #ChampionHer

About Dairy Farmers of Canada

Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) is the national policy, lobbying and promotional organization representing Canada’s farmers living on over 10,950 dairy farms. DFC strives to create stable conditions for the Canadian dairy industry, today and in the future. It works to maintain policies that foster the viability of Canadian dairy farmers and promote dairy products and their health benefits.

Fuelling Women Champions is a national, multi-year initiative spearheaded by Canada’s dairy farmers and it is dedicated to the advancement of women in sport. Canada’s dairy farmers are personally committing their time, energy and resources to this cause, and have partnered with several thought-leaders, celebrated athletes, and sports organizations.

Media Contact

Ashlee Smith
Dairy Farmers of Canada

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