Op-Ed: Quidditch Canada Takes a Moment to Congratulate Themselves as No One Watches

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By Nathan Ross

For an organization that has 638 members, you’d think more than four percent (a maximum of 21 to be exact) of them would tune in to find out how they are doing.

Quidditch Canada (QC) had its annual general meeting on Jan. 22 (hashtagged as #QCAGM on Twitter), and the hour was split very much into two camps. There were presentations made by the members of Quidditch Canada, many of whom had legitimately encouraging things to say about the growth of quidditch in the Great White North. However, there were also growing frustrations with trying to get to the bottom of issues from audience members ― including myself and Quidditch Post Canada Director Serena Cheong.

The majority of the meeting was a general recap of the report from the 2015-16 season, which can be found here. Facilitated by Communications Director Yara Kodershah, presentations were made by Jill Staniec (membership director), Liam Flewwelling (financial director), Nina Patti (volunteer director), Sachin Kotecha (events director), and Ema Shiroma-Chao (gameplay director), when her connection was not having issues and she was able to be a part of the livestream.

Valhalla Quidditch playing at the 2016 Quidditch Canada National Championship | Photo Credit: Ben Holland

There are some very encouraging things for Canadian quidditch that took place last season, like the fact that it made its television debut and the aforementioned increase to 638 members. A Team Council was created to bridge the gap felt between Quidditch Canada and the teams it represents. However, the governing body is still facing issues, and it is not just the lack of a bilingual English-French website.

The financial report felt subpar, with several of the audience members’ questions targeting it. With increasing membership fees, it isn’t encouraging to see $22,111.94 listed under Liabilities going only to “Accounts Payable.” There was a difference of over $10,000 between the cost for eastern and western regional championships, with no detailed explanation.

It is also frustrating for teams in the west to pay the same amount as their eastern counterparts, a point that was raised in #QCAGM. Kotecha mentioned that fees cover more than just regional events, pointing out things like insurance costs, which is pretty obvious and does not seem to account for the vast disparity in costs.

Kotecha made sure to avoid adding any fuel to the east vs. west fire, saying, “We understand that it’s thought that there’s this east-west divide, but we do want to make sure that we’re not trying to make that a real gap that’s there, so your fees are not just going toward events.” This is a really nice sentiment, but it feels a bit cheap without having a detailed breakdown of what Quidditch Canada is doing with players’ money.

At one point throughout the question period, it was mentioned in the chat section of the YouTube stream by Brian Gallaway (who it should be pointed out is also Jill Staniec’s common law partner) that this would be the same kind of financial report that would be satisfactory in the business world. Other members of Quidditch Canada mentioned several times that they were looking for volunteers to audit them if anyone wanted a closer look at the financials. Is it too much to ask for a financial report that looks like USQ’s, complete with the tax return form? If we do not ask, who holds Quidditch Canada to task?

Team Canada playing in the 2016 Quidditch World Cup in Frankfurt, Germany | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

It is unfortunate that these financial issues overshadowed the projects QC plans on bringing forward, because there are some exciting things in the works. There is a real push to get a team in every province and to establish a standing national team for the the 2016-18 period. Team Canada had a rather successful World Cup, coming in fourth, and should look to use that as a springboard as the country becomes a more connected hub for the growing sport.

However, at the end of the day, the directors at QC need to be able to do one of two things for their next annual general meeting: they need to be prepared to handle any reasonable question from the audience, or they need to be able to say, “I don’t know at this time.” It feels a lot better than trying to deflect, and it might be one of the ways Quidditch Canada gets more than just 20 people to tune in to its #QCAGM.

Editor’s Note: An error was made in an earlier version of this article that incorrectly labelled USQ’s income tax forms as its financial report. It has since been corrected.