Each quarter, Ontario Sailing aims to feature an organization, program, or member in our Ontario Sailing community. If you would like to discuss an upcoming future article, please email Andrea Miller, Communication and Community Engagement Coordinator.

SAILING IT FORWARD: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion on the Water!

In 1998, a handful of sailors formed a charity, called the Broad Reach Foundation for Youth Leaders, to increase access to sailing in the Toronto.

With only one boat, they were determined to change the complexion of the sailing community in an innovative way:  reaching out and engaging disadvantaged youth who had never had the opportunity to step aboard a sailboat nor would they even dream of it!

Why Were We Needed in 1998?

Because the society was more open to understanding the many barriers that prevent what was then called Youth at risk” from experiencing the sport, science and adventure of sailing, and from the benefits and values of sailing – benefits and values that can shape and enrich a life time.

The first barrier is economic. So, for almost 25 years, Broad Reach has provided its Summer Afloat Programming absolutely free of charge. We remain the only sailing-based charity in Canada whose programming is free for everyone who participates.

Whom Do We Support in 2023?

In 2023, increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion remains at the heart of Broad Reach. Our program participants are recommended by 40+ social agencies who support under-served, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth ages12-30. These young people – or their parents – arrived in Canada from the Middle East, Pakistan, the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, India and pretty much any other country of origin. We established positive partnerships with Indigenous service providers and 60% of our participants self-identify as female.

Many of the young people are in difficult circumstances: on the street, in conflict with the law, living in homeless shelters, experiencing inter-generational tensions, or the challenges of physical and mental health.

And everyone is welcome, and everyone is given the opportunity to discover skills which they never knew they had, or to start on a new path towards a new horizon, which they never knew was possible.

And, just as our participants celebrate diversity, equity, and inclusion, so our leadership team also demonstrates those principles.

Our current President of the Board, Charles Duncan Waterman, is a dedicated sailor who brought his talents to Toronto from Barbados. He is the first Black President of any sailing-based organization in Canada, and he leads a Board whose volunteers include women and men from diverse cultures.

How Far has Broad Reach Grown?

Today, our Mission and Vision remain the same, but our  new trading name – Broad Reach Canada – reflects our larger impact, reach and value. We are honoured by Sail Canada’s Best 2020 Program Award and Government of Canada 2021 Innovation Award.

Since 2017, our digital and hands-on programming has expanded to include 7,000 participants on the East Coast, in the St. Lawrence, on the Great Lakes, and on the Pacific Coast. We now have 7 vessels in Toronto, and partner with 7 Canadian tall ship organizations in Victoria, Hamilton, Kingston, Montreal and Lunenburg. In 2021 our Sailing Access Fund we provided bursary support for 150 young people to train on these tall ships and some returned as crew and employees.

In 2023, we will once again engage and provide bursaries for youth from coast-to-coast-coast, so that another 200+ young people can “go to sea”.

Celebrating the 30th Toronto Spring Thaw – with you!

We invite you to attend the traditional and “under new management” Spring Thaw Luncheon at the Boulevard Club, 1491 Lake Shore Blvd W, Toronto. Early-bird tickets are $80.00 and available here: https://www.sailbroadreach.ca/spring-thaw

Should you wish further information on Broad Reach Canada – how to volunteer (whether afloat or ashore), how to donate, how to stay informed – please contact our Chief Executive Officer: Marguerite Pyron, marguerite.pyron@sailbroadreach.ca , 416-850-5755.

Youth inspired by sailing since 1998