Sport Nova Scotia creates role to help prevent abuse, harassment in sport

Sport Nova Scotia has created a new position to help prevent abuse, discrimination and harassment in sport.

Elana Liberman was hired as the safe sport lead on Jan. 2.

She said her hope for the role is to develop safe sport policies and practices through training and education.

“Sport has played such an important role in my life and in so many lives,” Liberman said.

“We want to make sure that sport remains open, welcoming and inclusive — and ensure that we don’t have things like abuse and discrimination and harassment.”

Hockey incidents

The hiring comes at a time when Hockey Nova Scotia reports there’s been “an upward trend in reports of verbal abuse on and off the ice at our rinks in Nova Scotia.” The organization said in the last several months, there’s been serious allegations of racial slurs and reports of verbal abuse involving religion and sexual orientation.

Liberman said her position doesn’t exist as a full-time role in many places in Canada.

“So this is sort of new and exciting from a cross-country point of view,” she said.

While she’s currently in the “information gathering” stage, Liberman has been busy meeting many people in sport and recreation to help her develop the role, including a safe sport working group in the province who decided to create the position.

She hopes within the next two months to start working on a few safe sport projects. Liberman said she’ll also be paying attention to directives from the federal government around abuse in sport and how that will impact her role going forward.

Elana Liberman is a former freestyle ballet skier. (Submitted by Elana Liberman)

Liberman said she grew up in a sports family and was a freestyle ballet skier in the 1980s.

“Safe sport just wasn’t talked about,” she said.

Liberman went on to become a child protection lawyer and eventually opened her own gym in Halifax.

She said she’s excited to put her skills and knowledge to use.

“Sport and child protection are the two things that come together to make this job my dream job,” she said.

“It’s like melding everything I’ve done for my whole life.”

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