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Examining Whiteness and Eurocanadian Discourses in the Canadian Red Cross’ Swim Program

Each year, over 1 million Canadians participate in the Canadian Red Cross’ (CRC) Swim Program. Despite the increasing importance of cultural diversity in Canadian society, the CRC has yet to incorporate diversity training for this program’s Water Safety Instructors (WSIs). Through the use of critical Whiteness theory and critical discourse analysis, in this article, we examine the program’s content to assess the ways in which, if at all, it reflects mainstream, Eurocanadian and Whiteness discourses. Our analysis revealed two dominant discourses: (a) all participants should perceive risk and demonstrate leadership like Whites/Eurocanadians, and (b) behaviors that reflect White/Eurocanadian beliefs are normal and/or superior to other alternative ways of behaving. As a result of these findings, we suggest that future research should evaluate the possibility of implementing cultural safety training to equip instructors with a suitable understanding the cultural implications of aquatics programming, which may improve the program’s effectiveness for diverse Canadian populations.