Dr. Robert Schinke

Multicultural Sport and Physical Activity - Canada Research Chair

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Research Relevance

This research will contribute to the development of culturally-relevant sport psychology practices for athletes with marginalized identities and newcomers to Canada

Culturally-Sensitive Approaches for Athletes and Sport Organizations

Culturally-sensitive approaches have long been lacking among sport psychologists. They have treated all athletes based on a universal approach developed by mainstream learning institutions. The result has been a lack of understanding of the cultural identities of athletes.

Dr. Robert Schinke, Canada Research Chair in Multicultural Sport and Physical Activity, previously worked with local reserves in Northern Ontario to develop culturally-relevant approaches to motivate Aboriginal athletes. Their work uncovered the personal, coaching and community social support practices of indigenous athletes at the community and elite levels. Schinke anticipates that beginning in Northern Ontario, more Canadian Aboriginal youth will remain active in sport and physical activity, offsetting such health challenges as diabetes, suicide and substance abuse.

More recently, Schinke has been investigating the sport-related challenges new Canadians experience in the country’s sport system. More than 15 per cent of Canadian Olympians are immigrants, many of whom have experienced cultural assimilation challenges, including unfamiliar coaching practices. Recently, he explored how the national sport system can better understand the needs of immigrant elite athletes. Presently, this work has focused mostly on work with immigrant children and youth and how these people and their families could utilize sport as a healthy integration practice as members of Canadian society. Within this work, there is presently a particular focus on forced immigrants and those presently claiming and recently having claimed asylum. 

The answers that Schinke provides may completely change the way we look at sport and recreation services and transform the cultural sensitivity of sport offerings in Canada and abroad with vulnerable populations.