Canada’s Dairy Farmers’ Connection to Women Athletes

Why are Canada’s dairy farmers supporting women athletes in such a big way? By the nature of the dairy business, focusing on active, healthier lifestyles is an obvious fit. But the connection goes a lot deeper.

“Through an extensive analysis, our research revealed that despite the fact that women were becoming increasingly successful in sport on the world stage, more active in sport at the recreational level, and also in following sports, they were not receiving the attention they deserved through sponsorship or the media. Their efforts and accomplishments were not being celebrated to the degree Canada’s dairy farmers thought appropriate,” says Wally Smith, former president of Dairy Farmers of Canada.

According to data reported by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS), there's a 6 to 1 drop-off rate for teenage girls in sports, compared to boys.

This realization inspired Canada’s dairy farmers to start looking at ways to remedy the situation, leading to the Fuelling Women Champions movement. 

Empower women, inspire everyone.

British Columbia dairy farmer Tom Hoogendorn sees support for women athletes as paramount to building a better future.

Tom Hoogendorn on his family’s farm.

Canadian dairy farmer Tom Hoogendorn

“Anything that can empower them and give them recognition and more self-worth and confidence is a good thing, especially for the younger generation.”

When young women are inspired to get involved in sports, that inspiration is passed on to everyone they encounter. For example, he cites meeting Gold medal curler, Jennifer Jones.

“I met her in Vancouver. She was amazing! She brought tears to grown men’s eyes. Even hard farmers. Walking out of there with tears in their eyes.”

And the benefits of supporting women athletes goes far beyond winning Gold medals. PEI dairy farmer, Joy Stewart, sees it in her daughter, who plays in local Ringette tournaments that Joy’s family helps organize.

“I think it makes them good individuals as kids,” she attests. ”By being on a team, they learn to work with other people. They learn to balance their time between practice and schoolwork. The life skills certainly make them more mature and confident.

Dairy farmers, Ron and Joy Stewart pose with their kids and dog.

Canadian dairy farmers Ron Stewart and Joy Stewart

Wally Smith explains, “We know that playing sports can help girls do better in school, learn teamwork and goal-setting skills, build self-confidence, and relieve stress. Unfortunately, when it comes to women and sports, we see a very uneven playing field.”

A movement worth supporting.

Canadian dairy farmers want to help even the playing field, and they’re making it easier than ever to support women in sport.

“Recognize the importance of the initiative and join the movement,” says Smith. “Encourage your sister, niece, daughter, mother to be active and reach their goals through sport. Attend women and girls sporting events, watch women’s sport on TV or online.”

In fact, Smith says all Canadians can get involved right now, with the simple click of a button.

“Support the movement by following Fuelling Women Champions on social media and using the hashtag #ChampionHer.”

You can join the movement on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube