The Evolution of Bruno Delmaestro: From Skating Champion to Coaching Icon

Building the champions of tomorrow is every coach’s dream. It takes years of commitment, dedication, patience, and sacrifice. In figure skating and hockey, it means time away from your family, late nights and early mornings at the rink and countless days on the road. Esteemed skating coach and BC Section Skate Canada Competitive Coach of the Year Award (1999, 2001, 2006) Bruno Delmaestro will tell you; nothing happens overnight.

In his early years, Delmaestro was both a figure skater and a hockey player, playing hockey up until he was 15 years of age. His figure skating career continued for years beyond that. In 1980, as a dual citizen of both Canada and Italy, Delmaestro left Canada to go compete for Italy. During his figure skating career, Delmaestro became a three-time national champion and won a silver medal at the 1982 Nebelhorn Trophy and a bronze medal at the St. Gervais international competition in France. He skated in the European and World Championships on track to be named to Italy’s 1984 Olympic team when he was sidelined by a hip-flexor injury that ended his competitive career.

His on-ice accomplishments would turn out to be to what just one chapter of a long and accomplished career built around skating. After recovering from his injury, Delmaestro entertained offers to skate professionally but was also curious about dabbling in the coaching world. Instead of skating professionally, he began taking coaching courses under the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) while going to school and gradually became a skating coach.

After the first year, Delmaestro started to notice a trend in his skaters. “Guys were taking figure skating for hockey, and then quitting.” This opportunity would become a game changer for his career and that of many young hockey players.

His thought process became: “If you want to a be a hockey player, come train at my hockey school and if you want to be a figure skater, come train at the clubs.” This quickly became the motto he would share with all young skaters looking to train with him and the foundation of what would become Bruno Delmaestro’s Skating Schools. Delmaestro took his knowledge of both sports to create unique and effective skating programs.

In the years since, he has coached several prominent athletes, such as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Matthew Barzal and 2023 first 2023 NHL Entry Draft pick Connor Bedard. In addition to Connor Bedard, Delmaestro also coached two additional NHL draft picks this year. In figure skating, he has coached numerous national champions and international medallists.

While these accomplishments bring him pride, he shares that the real joy comes from, “when you get to touch the lives of these skaters, you give them guidance to overcome things in skating and that makes them strong in life.”

Just like anything else in life, there is always much behind-the-scenes work that goes into every success story and Delmaestro is no exception to this. At 60 years old, he has now been coaching for 38 years in the two sports he is passionate about. He is an NCCP level 4 (partially level 5) coach, which represents countless hours spent learning both on and off the ice. Logging coaching hours, completing tests, attending trainings, in addition to the time he spends directly with his athletes he was also a Skate Canada Master Course Conductor in Power Skating. Today he is a High Performance, Pre-Power and PowerSkate Manager and skating coach at the Coquitlam Skating Club in British Columbia.

He attributes much of his success to the incredible mentorship he found in Cynthia and Jan Ullmark, and while mentorship brought him a long way, he continued to train and evolve as a coach. Continued NCCP training and listening to his athletes brought him staying power in two sports that have changed leaps and bounds since he started coaching.

“We are so beyond the way we taught 38 years ago. You must adapt as the sport evolves and today the kids are stronger, better trained, and more skilled.”

Both hockey and figure skating are so radically different than they were years ago. Athletes are constantly breaking new physical barriers. In figure skating, we see more quads in the programs, better skating skills and hockey is faster now than it has ever been, with better equipment and puck handling skills. So, Delmaestro kept evolving, kept learning, kept growing with both the sport and his athletes.

For new coaches coming up through the ranks, Delmaestro relays some key advice. “For a coach working with any high-performance athlete, it’s a good balancing act of getting that person to their best performance. The road is never easy, there are lots of ups and downs, it’s important to be patient. We all need a basic understanding that this is their sport and part of your job is to keep them grounded.”

Getting to the top is challenging and requires a network of people and assets to get there. After 38 years of coaching, Delmaestro is now setting new goals and new aspirations. “I never thought I could push 60 with my body and now the dream is 65 and maybe 70,” he shares. In one last parting thought Bruno reminds us that, “sport is active for life and if you keep active for life, you will push through.”


This week is National Coaches Week. Join Skate Canada in celebrating coaches across the country working to help skaters of all ages accomplish their goals. We invite you to thank your coach in your own special way and to tag Skate Canada so we can join in the celebration.

Bruno Delmaestro is a World and International Level Skater and Coach who is NCCP Level 4 certified (partial level 5) and trainer of hockey players from beginner to NHL. To find out more about his skating schools, click here.

Empowering Joy: How Figure Skating Transformed Jayda’s World

Life opens up for all of us at different times and in different ways. Sport is something unique that pushes us, asking us to give it a shot, to improve and most of all, to have fun. Sport also provides social structures and opportunities to bond. In a positive and inclusive sporting environment, people thrive. This is exactly what happened for Jayda Yang when she took up skating.

Jayda started skating at five years old and seven years later, she still loves going to the rink. She thrives off the relationships she has built with her coaches, especially Coach Lisa, and while group activities have been difficult for her in the past, she absolutely loves being involved in programs at not just one but two skating schools in her area. In fact, Jayda loves skating so much that her mother registers her for a double session in the winter.

Jayda is also autistic and has limited verbal communication. For special needs individuals, group and social activities can often be challenging, anxiety provoking and stressful, but just as essential as they are for neurotypical people. Individuals all need a place where they belong and can develop relationships and skating has done just that for Jayda.

The rink has become a place where she is engaged, feels safe, and looks forward to being. Her clubs have adapted to keep her interested and enjoying the experience. Jayda is a very visual learner and sometimes needs things like timers and choices to help her continue to succeed. Her bond with her coaches, particularly Coach Lisa, gives her the motivation to keep going session after session.

Jayda’s autism diagnosis brings with it certain struggles. Some days it can take almost half an hour for Jayda to summon the motivation to get out of bed, but on days when she knows she has skating, she is excited to get up and get going. These are some of the small but hugely impactful differences Jayda’s mother has noticed as a result of skating.

Following her skating sessions, Jayda is “often happier, calmer and more open.” These become teachable moments where they get to communicate more. Jayda has limited verbal capacity and communicates largely by sign language and via an iPad. After skating, she will often sit outside with her mom having a snack and watch other skaters through the window of the arena with a smile on her face.

The clubs that Jayda skates at are a key contributor to this world of difference for her. The class sizes are small at both clubs which allows for more one-on-one attention. These classes are also organized in a way that works well for Jayda, with children moving station to station with their teacher and the rest of their group. Her coaches will also take time to bring her back to the group and have put in place accommodations that ensure a positive experience and the opportunity to learn and progress.

“It sounds like a small thing, but it’s not a small thing. It takes a lot of people’s goodwill and consideration to keep this a positive experience” for Jayda and others who might have additional needs to succeed and thrive in a skating environment.

There is no doubt that Jayda’s clubs, coaches and friends have contributed to her skill development and continue to provide her with a wonderful opportunity to grow. For a parent, there is nothing sweeter than seeing your child find joy, especially after periods of hardship. For Jayda, figure skating is that joy, that social circle we all crave so deeply and a place for her to grow. It’s been a gift and one that will hopefully continue to give to her for years to come.

53 Athletes Named to Skate Canada’s 2023-2024 NextGen Team

Ottawa, ON (July 26, 2023) – Skate Canada is excited to announce the 53 athletes that have been selected to the NextGen Team for the 2023-2024 season. The team will be comprised of 12 men, 13 women, five pair teams and nine ice dance teams.

Skate Canada’s NextGen program was created to support the operations of Skate Canada’s high performance development system with the purpose of ensuring athletes and coaches reach their maximum potential through various development and training opportunities.

The program is delivered in partnership with the Skate Canada Sections (PSO), Own The Podium, and Canadian Sport Institutes across the country. Selected skaters and their respective coaches are provided essential support to further their athletic goals, while identifying and supporting the development of the skills necessary to be competitive at a national and international level.

2023-2024 NextGen Team

Name | Age | Hometown | Coach | Training Location


David Bondar | 16 | Richmond Hill, Ont. | Lee Barkell | Toronto, Ont.
William Chan | 14 | Vancouver, B.C. | Eileen Murphy & Keegan Murphy | Richmond, B.C.
Vladimir Furman | 16 | St-Hubert, Que. | Marc-André Craig | Chambly, Que.
Alec Guinzbourg | 18 | Aurora, Ont. | Lee Barkell | Toronto, Ont.
David Howes | 16 | Winnipeg, Man. | Keegan Murphy | Richmond, B.C.
Terry Jin | 17 | Surrey, B.C. | Joey Russell | Toronto, Ont.
David Li | 16 | Richmond, B.C. | Keegan Murphy & Eileen Murphy | Richmond, B.C.
Grayson Long | 15 | Oakville, Ont. | Brian Orser | Toronto, Ont.
Rio Morita | 18 | Thornhill, Ont. | Tracy Wilson | Toronto, Ont.
Edward Nicholas Vasii | 16 | Rosemère, Que. | Yvan Desjardins | Rosemère, Que.
Anthony Paradis | 16 | Boisbriand, Que. | Yvan Desjardins | Rosemère, Que.
David Shteyngart | 17 | Ottawa, Ont. | Darlene Joseph | Ottawa, Ont.


Abbie Baltzer | 15 | Hamilton, Ont. | Jennifer Jackson & Bryce Davison | Hamilton, Ont.
Breken Brezden | 17 | Dauphin, Man. | Jennifer Jackson & Bryce Davison | Hamilton, Ont.
Mély-Ann Gagner | 15 | Sherbrooke, Que. | Marc-André Craig | Chambly, Que.
Fée Ann Landry | 18 | Gatineau, Que. | Guylaine Blouin | Gatineau, Que.
Lulu Lin | 13 | Mississauga, Ont. | Paul Parkinson & Andrew Evans | Mississauga, Ont.
Reese Rose | 14 | Gananoque, Ont. | Darlene Joseph | Ottawa, Ont.
Hetty Shi | 14 | Northville, Michigan | Andrew Evans & Paul Parkinson | Mississauga, Ont.
Uliana Shiryaeva | 16 | Coquitlam, B.C. | Joanne McLeod | Burnaby, B.C.
Rose Théroux | 16 | Ste-Victoire-de-Sorel, Que. | Marc-André Craig | Chambly, Que.
Aleksa Volkova | 14 | Lac-Brôme, Que. | Martine Dagenais | Boucherville, Que.
Megan Woodley | 14 | Oro Station, Ont. | Andrew Evans & Paul Parkinson | Mississauga, Ont.
Lucille Yang | 13 | Dunrobin, Ont. | Darlene Joseph | Ottawa, Ont.
Kara Yun | 14 | Burnaby, B.C. | Joanne McLeod | Burnaby, B.C.


Annika Behnke | 14 | Peace River, Alta. & Kole Sauve | 15 | Grand Prairie, Alta. | Terri Gallant | Edmonton, Alta.
Jazmine Desrochers | 16 | Mississauga, Ont. & Kieran Thrasher | 19 | Amherstburg, Ont. | Bruno Marcotte | Oakville, Ont.
Ava Kemp | 14 | Winnipeg, Man. & Yohnatan Elizarov | 19 | Winnipeg, Man. | Andrew Evans & Kevin Dawe| Mississauga, Ont.
Martina Ariano Kent | 16 | Mount Royal, Que. & Charly Laliberté-Laurent | 17 | Boucherville, Que. | Marc-André Craig & David Alexandre Paradis | Chambly, Que.
Ashlyn Schmitz | 17 | Shellbrook, Sask. & Tristan Taylor | 21 | Regina, Sask. | David & Vicki Schultz | Regina, Sask.


Victoria Carandiuc | 15 | Saint-Constant, Que. & Andrei Carandiuc | 16 | Saint-Constant, Que. | Mylène Girard | Chambly, Que.
Auréa Cinçon-Debout | 16 | Montreal, Que. & Earl Jesse Celestino | 17 | Dollard des Ormeaux, Que. | Benjamin Brisbois | Montreal, Que.
Charlotte Chung | 18 | Toronto, Ont. & Axel Mackenzie | 18 | Toronto, Ont. | Carol Lane | Scarborough, Ont.
Emma Goodstadt | 18 | Oakville, Ont. & Christian Bennett | 18 | Charlotte, North Carolina | Carol Lane | Scarborough, Ont.
Jordyn Lewis | 18 | Komoka, Ont. & Noah McMillan | 19 | Ilderton, Ont. | Scott Moir | London, Ont.
Savanna Martel | 18 | Calgary, Alta. & William Oddson | 20 | Calgary, Alta. | Kim Weeks & Tyler Myles | Calgary, Alta.
Chloe Nguyen | 18 | Vancouver, B.C. & Brendan Giang | 19 | Burnaby, B.C. | Aaron Lowe & Megan Wing | Burnaby, B.C.
Dana Sabatini-Speciale | 17 | Springwater, Ont. & Nicholas Buelow | 16 | Barrie, Ont. | Mitch Islam | Barrie, Ont.
Layla Veillon | 17 | London, Ont. & Alexander Brandys | 18 | London, Ont. | Scott Moir | London, Ont.

You Don’t Have to Be Perfect; You Just Have to Be Awesome

Photo by Elsa Garrison – International Skating Union/International Skating Union via Getty Images

In the spring of 2022, senior synchronized skating team Les Suprêmes struck gold at the ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships in front of a home crowd in Hamilton, Ontario. This marked the third time in history that a Canadian team would stand on the top step of the podium since the event’s inception 22 years ago. The previous team to win gold was NEXXICE in 2015, seven years prior. So, how did they get here?

Believe it or not, COVID-19 helped catapult the team to this level of excellence. When talking with Marilyn Langlois, one of the three members of the coaching team along with Pascal Denis and Amélie Brochu, she attributes their success to the training constraints they had to adhere to during the pandemic.

Marilyn paints a picture of what their training was like: “The pandemic forced us to focus more on individual skating skills and we had to get creative with our trainings, using sticks to maintain distance which allowed for more room to skate and to skate bigger.”

This unique training environment created a strong base for the skaters and allowed them to put together a much stronger program. Heading into Worlds in 2022, Les Suprêmes were not well ranked internationally, a direct result of limited opportunities to compete internationally due to the Omicron outbreak in January 2022. A few months later in Hamilton, the hometown crowd shook the building each time Canadian synchronized skating teams took the ice. It felt more like a hockey game than traditional figure skating. It was a special moment for this Canadian team as they skated lights out and captured the gold medal on home soil.

The 2022-2023 season was slightly different for the reigning world champions due to the fact that synchronized skating was added to the

Photo by Elsa Garrison – International Skating Union/International Skating Union via Getty Images

2023 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships program for the first time alongside all other skating disciplines.

This was a special moment for the synchronized skating community and fans welcomed the discipline with open arms. Throughout the event, spectators were heard saying things like “I didn’t know synchronized skating was like this” or “It’s come so far technically from when I last watched.”

However, this change also meant that synchronized skating teams would be competing for their national title a month earlier than in the past. Historically, synchronized skating teams participated in their own National Championships which took place in February, with the ultimate objective of peaking at the World Championships in late March. Going into nationals as World Champions the previous year, Les Suprêmes were the strong favourite to win, but ended up placing third.

According to Marilyn Langlois, it wasn’t a bad skate and they were not planning to peak at nationals. To not perform at your best at the National Championships seems counterintuitive, but sports are a building game and each competition prepares you for the next. The team was focused on getting the technical elements, good GOEs and building mental strength so they could peak when it counted.

Photo by Elsa Garrison – International Skating Union/International Skating Union via Getty Images

Following nationals, Canada’s synchronized skating teams began their international season and the work to qualify for the World Championships. This is a time of “believing and trusting the process and being confident in the program you are building,” shared Marilyn.

At their first international competition of the 2023 season, the team was just looking to improve and build confidence. These competitions are good preparation for Worlds as athletes compete against other international competitors. The focus is on winning one element at a time. The coaching philosophy always being, ‘You do not have to be perfect; you just have to be awesome.’

Indeed, they were awesome and in turn accomplished something amazing: the team won medals at both of their international competitions leading up to the World Championships, finishing first at the 2023 Challenger Series Spring Cup and claiming bronze at the 2023 Leon Lurje Trophy. This momentum carried them into the 2023 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships, where they accomplished something incredibly awesome: back-to-back World Championship titles, a first for Canada.

Competing at this level of the sport requires strong mental skills, which is a main area of focus within the coaching team. They constantly tell their team that they just need to be awesome because perfection is impossible and regardless of the outcome of the season, “they are still going to be able to achieve something awesome by the end.” In addition to instilling this mindset within their team, they take proactive approaches to preserve athletes’ health. The coaching team regularly checks in individually with each athlete and Marilyn confirms that for their coaching team, “the health of the athlete, mentally, physically, comes before any performance.

For Les Suprêmes, winning in a healthy way is a mindset they would like to bring to the forefront of competitive sport. “Doing it in a healthy way is doable, it just takes a lot more communication and listening to the needs of your athletes, as well as, finding just the right balance between hard work and fun.”

10,000 Requests a Year: Supporting Safety for 2SLGBTQIA+ with Rainbow Railroad

On June 28th, 1969, New York City, police raided The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. Employees and patrons were roughly dragged from the bar by police. The raid ignited a riot amongst the patrons and residents. This led to six days of protests and violent interactions with police and was the inciting event of the gay rights movement.

One year later, thousands of people gathered to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising. Citizens in New York, Chicago and LA marched for equal rights. These events are what inspired the Pride Parades that we have today. Pride in North America is a celebration of the progress we have made, and we should celebrate but we should also remember the history.

“Pride began as a protest and is still a protest for many people around the world today,” shares Brittany Skerritt, Senior Development Officer of Community Giving at Rainbow Railroad.

For Pride Season, Skate Canada has partnered with Rainbow Railroad in support of their global initiatives to protect and assist queer people who are facing state enabled violence and persecution.  While we are safe from that type of threat here in Canada, 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals are still living in fear of the death penalty in 12 countries across the globe. Crackdowns and law changes specifically targeted at queer people continue in countries like Afghanistan and Uganda. This creates a bigger demand for safety and support, just the type of work that Rainbow Railroad is known for.

In 2006, the organization was founded by a group of volunteers who started privately sponsoring queer refugees to come into the country one individual at a time. They operated like this until 2013 when Rainbow Railroad became a registered charity in Canada and then a few years later in the United States. Their main mandate is emergency travel support. Since their inception, they have helped almost 10,000 2SLGBTQIA+ people find safety through relocation, crisis response and financial assistance. It’s a big job and it’s intricate, working with governments and on the ground organizations to assist as many people as possible, and more people need help than you might think.

On they have a live counter that indicates the number of people who have requested assistance to date this year. As of June 8, 2023, the organization has received 4,106 requests and are expecting to receive 10,000 or more by the end of 2023. Sometimes help requests are not always from where you think they might be either.

“In 2022 the United States was in the list of our top-ten countries,” noted Brittany.

Demonstrating that the western world still has work to do to safeguard the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

Rainbow Railroad works with different government agencies around, in Canada, the United States, Europe and a few more, to bring these individuals to safety. However, sometimes there is not a safe pathway out and, in that case, their organization will provide shelters in nearby countries, financial support or help relocate people to a safer region within their current country.

Brittany explains, “that it’s kind of similar to someone who is living in the countryside and then relocating to a larger metropolitan like Toronto where it might be a little safer.”

They need to have alternative methods.

“When it comes to the refugee process, most people have to be outside of their country first, before they can relocate to a new country,” Brittany explains. “And it can also be incredibly dangerous.”

In a lot of these countries being visibly queer can prevent you from taking public transit and airlines limit the number of individuals who can leave the country because they can be penalized if too many people board their flight who might be claiming refugee status.

The difference they are making is significant. In the next few months in cooperation with the Canadian Government they will be moving 600 Afghan refugees to safety. This is one of the biggest efforts the organization has accomplished to date.

It is eye opening to hear about the situation for 2SLGBTQIA+ people globally. It is easy to limit our view to the country we live in. In Canada we have the privilege of same-sex marriage and other equality laws that help protect queer people. Ten thousand requests a year is a lot and Rainbow Railroad is aiming to support 4,100 refugees this year a tall order for this once volunteer run initiative.

To support the pivotal work being done, Skate Canada has produced a line of all-gender Pride merchandise to show our support and donate funds to this important effort. The merchandise will be on sale on summer and all of Skate Canada’s proceeds will be donated directly. Pride apparel can purchased through the Skate Canada Shop. . Make sure to pick up your unique piece and show your love of skating loud and proud while also supporting queer individuals globally who are in desperate need of help.

In closing, Brittany reminded us kindly, “that support is needed all year long, not just during Pride Season.”

If you are looking for ways to help, please visit for information on donating, sponsoring refugees and other ways to lend your support.

This Pride Season let’s remember to celebrate what we are so grateful to have achieved here in Canada but let’s also take a moment to reflect the protests and oppression that continues abroad.


You can follow Rainbow Railroad and their efforts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.
Or visit their website for more information and to stay up to date on recent events.

Purchase your official Skate Canada Pride merchandise here.


(2022, May 31). 1969 Stonewall Riots. Retrieved June 8, 2023, from

Learning to ‘work in good ways’ with Clayton Sandy

The road to change is a long one. There is no one action that can eliminate the inherited generational trauma and behaviours that have been experienced by Canada’s Indigenous people. Skate Canada has been proud to work hand in hand with Clayton Sandy this year as we look to ‘work in good ways’ with the Indigenous community.

Clayton Sandy is a survivor of the ‘Sixties Scoop’ a period where large numbers of Indigenous children were taken from their families and placed in non-indigenous foster homes. Both of his parents went to residential schools, as well as six of his siblings. Growing up, Clayton shares a story of a home life marked by violence and alcohol. He shares with us interactions with police who beat him and urinated on him. Racism, violence, and alcohol were all regular occurrences but that would not be his path forward.

Today, Clayton is the opposite of the environment he was raised.

Never wanting his children to grow up surrounded by violence, Clayton began a healing journey and went to therapy.

“Therapy really helped me to let go of a lot of issues because I was carrying issues of being physically abused, sexually abused, and that was coming out every time that I drank and getting me in trouble all the time. That really helped me deal with a lot of my issues,” shared Clayton.

Then in 1982 when he became a father, he was determined to create a home where his children and eventually grandchildren would feel safe and secure. So, he quit drinking and never allowed alcohol into his home, breaking generational ties.

Fast forward to today and Clayton Sandy is focused on sharing the history of his people and his own story to ensure people are hearing about Indigenous experiences from an Indigenous person. He is retired after 39 years of work in government but for a retired person his work towards reconciliation keeps him very busy.

Here at Skate Canada, staff were privileged to participate in an in person sharing circle with Clayton in the Fall of 2022. It was an eye-opening experience to learn about the history and suffering that Indigenous people have endured. Employees learned of residential schools, the sixties scoop, and heard the firsthand retelling of Clayton’s story and history, one that is unfortunately not rare among Indigenous people.

Clayton also shared with us his love of sport and long-time engagement and love for hockey. Unfortunately, the racism he experienced led him to quit the game he loved. Today he is a ‘hockey granddad’ with three of his grandchildren participating in hockey. Clayton works with Skate Canada to help correct some of the racism in sport that he has witnessed throughout his life, so that other kids do not suffer the way he did.

Clayton’s efforts and engagement with Skate Canada continued in April 2023 when Skate Canada sections were privileged to engage in a virtual learning session with Clayton in April of 2023. Clayton led members in a conversation about dispelling the misconceptions about Indigenous people. This is all part of Skate Canada’s effort to continue to build lasting and meaningful relationships as we work towards reconciliation.

Apart from Skate Canada, Clayton is also highly involved in the Turtle Island Project (TIP). TIP is an action-oriented exercise designed to transform society’s negative perceptions of Indigenous people and engages people in reconciliatory action. Participants taking part in this project are asked to walk in the shoes of Indigenous people that began 150 years ago and share in celebrating the lives of Indigenous people today. This can include activities like sharing circles, true life stories from residential school survivors and participating in the setup of a full-size tipi.

Clayton participates in initiatives like this regularly to help move society forward in relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

While it might sound counter-intuitive based on his story, Clayton elaborates that throughout his journey he has been the recipient of kindness and that his efforts today as very simply about giving back for the kindness he is so grateful to have received.

“I have connected with non-native people that really helped me out at many times. I had a mentor in government for 38 years who taught me a lot about kindness and giving back. Learning to walk together in a really respectful way and learning to forgive when somebody says something because they do not realize, it is not deliberate, and some people just do not know any better.”

He explains that we need to recognize that thing are not always straight forward.

“It’s not a one-way street. So, it must be a two-way street between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. You have to be willing to accept mistakes sometimes and just keep on moving forward.”

It is almost unbelievable when you hear the details from Clayton of what he went through – consistent racism, abuse, assault, and family violence – to see where he is and the actions he is taking today. To supersede the adversity, he has experienced in his life and be able to give back is nothing short of determination and a true desire to be the best person possible.

He is a living, breathing example that change is possible and that there are always opportunities to learn and to engage in education and open conversations. Society and skating alike need to be open to listen and learn and the way forward can be a truly healing experience for all involved.


Clayton Sandy is a member of the Sioux Valley Dakota First Nation. He was recently awarded the 70th Queen’s Jubilee Platinum Aware for his community contributions. In June of 2023 he will also be awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Winnipeg.

This June as we celebrate National Indigenous History Month Skate Canada would like to thank individuals like Clayton Sandy for sharing their story with us and progressing our narrative and understanding of what has transpired so that we can move forward in a more positive and constructive manner with our Indigenous partners. Throughout the month, Skate Canada will host several initiatives dedicated to raising awareness and supporting the Indigenous Community.

For more information on upcoming events, click here.


  1. British Columbia, U. O. (n.d.). Sixties Scoop. Indigenous Foundations Arts UBC.



Davey Howes: Staying Connected and Pushing for Change

The echoes of the path forward come from the youth of today and they reverberate the same messages we have heard from their role models; the path to better representation lies in visibility. We spoke to 16-year-old David Howes (who prefers to be referred to as Davey), who is the current Canadian novice champion and Skate Canada Challenge gold medalist. He is also a third-generation Chinese Canadian who is connected to his Asian heritage largely through his grandfather and his engagement in his local community.

Davey’s granddad was born in Myanmar (formerly Burma) and as a child lived in Myanmar, China, and Kolkata, India. Davey had a special bond with his granddad and is heavily influenced by him. Growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Davey and his family have always been involved in the Chinese community attending festivals, the Lunar New Year and volunteering at the Chinese pavilion.

Davey grew up attending events in Winnipeg related to both his heritage and to promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion. Davey’s mom, Tina Chen, member of the Skate Canada EDIA Operating Committee, recounts stories of Davey and his older sister wearing peace shirts and marching for numerous causes with her. This meant that over the years, Davey says he “learnt to share what he sees, how he feels and how he’s seen it.”

As a teenager living in Winnipeg, he is very familiar with the tragedy of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirit, and shares that March for Our Lives, an organization focused on creating conversations and actions to end gun violence, has had a significant impact on him. He resonates with the work of authors like James Baldwin.

When speaking with Davey and asking about the involvement of today’s youth and the lens with which our younger generation is approaching change, he shares, “I am always thinking about systemic racism, and its impact on people.” When asked about the way forward and the responsibilities of his generation he iterates, “we need to be involved in pushing to get the changes we need and to have an impact.”

Davey has had many opportunities to visit China since he was young, including visiting Fujian where his great-grandparents were from before they moved to Burma. A visit to Sichuan when he was 6 years old even sparked in him a desire to save the pandas which resulted in six years of fundraisers in his local community. He takes action and talks about change freely. Looking back, he credits his mother for a lot of his current awareness around difficult topics like systemic racism, Indigenous rights, and representation.

As a figure skater, Davey also holds dreams of making the National Team and competing at a world championship one day. When we spoke with him about representation in figure skating, specifically representation of Asian skaters, Davey says, “we do not have too many high-level competitors who are Asian here in Manitoba, and I enjoy being able to represent.”

In addition to his high-performance training, Davey also works as a CanSkate program assistant. When working with young Asian skaters, he has noticed that visibility provides a point of connection. He recounts stories of Asian skaters and parents and how they tend to approach him as a primary point of contact on the ice. As he moves forward in his skating career, he shared that his goal is to just, “keep pushing forward, for more inclusion and representation, specifically in Manitoba.”

“We are seeing more representation generally thanks to organisations like FSDIA (Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance) and people like Elladj Baldé, but we just need to keep pushing to gain inclusivity as skating continues to push on.”

Sometimes progress can feel slow or stagnant, but youth give us hope for a brighter tomorrow. Davey Howes carries that hope. His vision is through a lens of acceptance and his heart is full of drive, both for his skating career and for a more inclusive and anti-racist society, inside and outside of figure skating.


May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada and the theme for this year is “stories of determination”. Throughout the month, Skate Canada will host several initiatives dedicated to raising awareness and supporting our community of Asian Skaters.

For more information on upcoming events, click here.

Canada’s Les Suprêmes repeat as Synchronized Skating World Champions

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – Les Suprêmes, from St-Léonard, Que., successfully defended its title on Saturday at the ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships while Nexxice from Burlington, Ont., took fourth spot.

There were no changes in the top-four after Friday’s short program, with Les Suprêmes taking top spot with a season best 240.98 points which was four points more than last year’s winning performance. The national bronze medalists entered the worlds with two international medals this season including a victory.

The Helsinki Rockettes from Finland won the silver with 239.56 and their compatriots Team Unique was third with 237.68.

Canada’s Nexxice was fourth for the second straight year with 228.08. Nexxice, the national champions, also collected two international podiums prior to worlds including a gold medal.

There were 23 entries in total at the championships.

Full results: ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships 2023

Rachel Naylor – “My Disability Does Not Define Me”

This is a story about Rachel. Rachel is a 20-something nursing student, who grew up in a small town called Cameron, just outside Lindsay, Ontario, a place most people have never heard of. She has two older brothers, who taught her a lot about competition, what it means to be resilient and never let her get away with feeling ‘different’.

There is something unique and special about Rachel. Her mindset is utterly positive, she’s exceptionally driven, inspiring and in her own words, she doesn’t let anyone tell her what she can and cannot do.

A third-year nursing student and long-time figure skater, Rachel was also born without a left hand. A congenital upper limb deficiency, which means that her left hand never developed during her mom’s pregnancy. Her parents were concerned at first but that quickly faded when Rachel was able to hit all her developmental milestones just as easily as her two older brothers.

At two years old, Rachel fell in love for the first time…with figure skating. Her mother was a figure skater and Rachel wanted to be just like her. At the age of four Rachel was enrolled in CanSkate, where she met her coach, Denise Harris. Rachel’s tenacious and positive spirit was evident even then. Rachel remembers going to the rink dressed in all pink outfit and skating into the boards on purpose.  This high energy and stubborn demeanour caught her coach’s attention.

At six years old Rachel shared that she “demanded that Denise let her skate to the chicken dance song” at her first competition. Thanks in part to her two older brothers, Rachel developed a very competitive spirit, so she took her chicken dance routine very seriously. The result, a clean sweep of first place medals that season.

That determination and dedication stayed with Rachel throughout her skating career and life. In 2016, Rachel qualified for provincials amongst a large pool of other competitors, most of whom were able-bodied. It’s important to note here, Rachel was not given any special considerations or points for her disability. Rachel would go on to qualify for provincials at least two more times, a huge accomplishment given her disability does come with limitations.

As Rachel improved, she noticed a greater impact on her skating. People around her were acquiring higher GOEs, starting to level up their spins with specific variations but Rachel is unable to grab her blade on one side.

“I couldn’t do an A-frame because I wasn’t able to grab the back of my boot,” said Rachel.

For some elements Rachel found herself having to wrap her arm around her leg because of her disability. A totally different approach than her able-bodied competitors.

Despite the challenges and difficulties that come with her disability, Rachel has never let that define her.

“My disability Is not some kind of separate entity here to hold me back. My disability is a large part of the person I am and has shaped my experiences since I was young” shared Rachel.

There will always be limitations, “I will never be a surgeon” she admits. Rachel has had to learn to function in a world that is primary built for people who are able-bodied. Despite all this Rachel moves forward through life with a ‘try first’ attitude.

This attitude is how she is powering her way through a nursing degree at Queens University. When Rachel first enrolled in the program, she was not sure if she would be able to complete it due to the limitations of her disability. While some people would never have signed up in the first place, Rachel’s try first attitude kicked in.

“If I figured out halfway through that I really wasn’t able to do it, I would tackle that when I came to it. But what was the harm in trying?” explained Rachel regarding her decision to enroll in nursing school.

Rachel’s mentality and approach to life and her views on her disability are truly inspiring. Often in life we are limited by our mindset and inner thoughts. Rachel smashes through negative thought and plunges forward.

In closing Rachel shared some advice and insights, “we need more visibility,” she says. “If you show people that you can do this and we have more faces of people with physical disabilities in skating or any sport, it will encourage more people to participate. It’s going to show somebody, hey, there is someone like me. Maybe I can do this?”

2023 Canada Games Marked by Friendship, New Records and Huge Crowds

Athletes from across the country united in Prince Edward Island for the 2023 Canada Winter Games and what a great event it was! The games took place from February 18 to March 5th with 3,600 athletes, managers and coaches involved across 20 different sports, including figure skating.

With standing room only, the crowd’s reactions were loud and encouraging throughout the competition week. It was a sea of colour as teams could be clearly distinguished from one another as they sported their Provincial and Territorial attire. Meanwhile the spirit of the games was alive in the support that athletes showed, not only to their teammates but to all skaters.

The figure skating portion of the games consisted of pre-novice men, women, pair, ice dance and Special Olympics Level 2 and 3. As competition unfolded over the course of the second week, we saw two records broken; Sandrine Blais from Quebec, silver medalist at the 2023 Skate Canada Challenge in Regina, set a record in pre-novice women and Julia Xiao and Keith Lau of Manitoba, also silver medalists in Regina, set a new record in pre-novice pair.

The 2023 Canada Games were also host to the Special Olympics, which saw two young participants qualify for the first time. Maddox Glover from Newfoundland and Labrador and Kayla Rose Cooper from Nova Scotia, both 13 years of age, won their respective events.

To see all the athletes stay to watch and support the Special Olympic athletes was truly heartwarming. Figure skating Special Olympians Maddox Glover and Mike Sumner had some truly memorable moments at the Games, as Glover was the flag bearer during the Closing Ceremonies and Sumner won the Pat Lechelt True Sport award. This award is presented to two athletes during the games who exemplify true sport principles both on and off the field of play. This was Sumner’s last Games and they ended on a high note:

“I am feeling the excitement right now. I think I performed my personal best and I am very happy about this opportunity to be here,” shared Sumner.

Over the course of this two-week event we had the opportunity to ask athletes, coaches and managers what their experience of the Games was like. Here are a few highlights from the responses we collected:

“It was amazing in all aspects, and I learnt a lot from it. I developed long-lasting friends.”

Julia Xiao – Pre-Novice Pair Champion from MB

“My Canada Winter Games experience was fun, and the environment helped so that I wasn’t stressed for competition. It was a great experience that I will never forget!”

Keith Lau – Pre-Novice Pair Champion from MB

‘Our experience at the Canada Winter Games was phenomenal. Even with a stressful start, we felt support from Skate Canada, volunteers, and a heartfelt message from Keegan Messing. What a treat to be at an event where the calibre of skating was so impressive, and the crowd was beyond enthusiastic. This was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our athletes and leadership team alike.’

Lisa Bonderove – Team AB Manager

The spirit of the Games was phenomenal for everyone involved from athletes to officials to audience members. There was great competition, wonderful camaraderie, and support for all athletes across all disciplines. In the words of many of the participants in PEI, the 2023 Canada Winter Games is an “experience they will never forget.”

For more information about the games and for final competition results, please visit the Canada Winter Games figure skating page.

Khorana Séa-Alphonse – My Skating Journey

Skate Canada is sharing stories and experiences from our community as we recognize Black History Month. Khorana Séa-Alphonse started skating at a young age at a local skating school in Montreal, QC. She was a recreational skater in both singles and synchronized skating and started coaching as an adult. She is now a CanSkate Coach at the Gloucester Figure Skating Club and serves as a member of the Skate Canada EDIA Operating Committee. When she’s not on the ice, Khorana works for the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada and is very busy as a new mom to a six-month-old.


Education and Advocacy Pave The Way for Better Representation Special Feature with Elladj Baldé

Life grants us opportunities to grow, change and improve if we listen, stay curious and keep an open mind. Every February we are granted unique opportunities that come with the celebration of Black History Month. This opportunity looks different for people of different backgrounds. For some, Black History Month provides an opportunity to engage in difficult conversations, to expand understanding and to take a look at the current situation. For Black and racialized people, Elladj Baldé says “this time is a moment to celebrate history and look forward to what the black experience could look like.” Baldé has become an advocate and inspiration for many in the skating community.

His social media stardom is giving young Black skaters someone they can relate to when they dream of seeing themselves on the ice. He is also igniting crowds with his authentic and entertaining style but feels like the current situation “still sits in hope and faith.” The good news is, there are steps we can take to make our way forward and it begins with education and representation.

As a skater, Baldé said the lack of representation and not “seeing someone who looks like him achieve success” was a struggle.  He was often told that he shouldn’t wear what he wanted because the judges wouldn’t like it and it was the same when it came to his music.

“It made me feel that who I was and who I wanted to be on the ice would limit me from success,” said Baldé.

At one point he was even told to cut his hair.

Baldé wants to create room for figure skaters to fully express themselves and become successful in the sport.

“The way forward is to understand what it is to live the Black experience, the Indigenous experience, the People of Colour experience. Education on different styles of music, on different styles of movement; we are so used to seeing skating done in a certain way that we identify as good. But there are so many ways to move on the ice,” explained Baldé.

In November 2021, Baldé and his wife, Michelle Dawley formed Skate Global Foundation, a non-profit organization formed on three pillars: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), Mental Health and Climate Change. In 2023, the key focus of the Skate Global Foundation will be EDI.

“To help support skaters of colour, starting specifically with Black skaters,” said Baldé. This support will come in the form of grants, assisting with equipment costs, ice times and more.

One of the biggest barriers to figure skating is the cost. Ice time, coaches and skates can add up quickly and in underserved communities, those barriers are compounded by systemic racism. Mix in a lack of representation adds to the challenge, “it makes it really difficult for a young Black kid to choose this sport and then make it all the way to the top,” said Baldé.

Baldé believes change starts at the top with National Sport Organizations (NSO) taking initiatives and trying to break down barriers and make sport more accessible.

One of Skate Canada’s strategic imperatives over the next quadrennial is Skating for Everyone. As part of this imperative, Skate Canada is taking action on anti-racism, Indigenous engagement and working to eliminate barriers that limit participation in skating.

Through activities such as World Ice Skating Day, the Diverse Leaders in Skating Mentorship Program, Indigenous lead sharing circles and EDIA (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility) educational resources, Skate Canada has started to make progress in this area.

“I believe that in Canada we have a really good opportunity to make this a sport that looks a lot more diverse than it did a few years ago,” said Baldé.

Baldé encourages the skating community to continue education, have difficult conversations and be open to someone else’s experience.

In closing, Baldé had some inspiring words to share with the next generation.

“If it’s something you really want to do and you love, do it and embrace your gifts. Find what it is that is unique about you and share that with everyone and allow everyone to celebrate you for who you are – there is nothing more beautiful than that.”


**Baldé is a former National Team Member who competed at 27 international competitions. Baldé won the Canadian junior title in 2008 and would go on to compete at nine senior Canadian championships, making the National Team five times. In 2015, he won his first gold medal on the international scene at the Nebelhorn Trophy. ***