Breakfast with Sheldon Kennedy
Posted byon May 21, 2015
Border City residents had the opportunity to have breakfast with a retired NHL player and child sexual abuse advocate on Wednesday.
The Lloydminster Sexual Assault and Information Centre (LSAIC) invited Sheldon Kennedy to Lloydminster to discuss the impacts he faced from being a survivor of child sexual abuse, and how it affected his life and healing journey.
“The LSAIC was excited to invite Sheldon Kennedy to our community during this time to speak on the impacts of child sexual abuse,” said LSAIC Director Tammy Shopland. “It is essential for communities to understand the effects of sexual violence and the importance of supporting individuals that have experienced sexual abuse and sexual assault.”
Outside his eight-year NHL career, Kennedy is best known for his decision to charge his coach from his Major Junior Hockey league days with sexual abuse. As a teenager he suffered over a five-year period under his coach’s care.
“I never thought this is what I would be doing for a living, but it’s important. I think from the first time I told my story I had a lot of fear, guilt and shame. With my life in shambles, I tried to carry the message the best way I could,” Kennedy commented on the message he carried with him, in the past. “I had a platform because of playing in the NHL and I was able to carry that message. It may have not been the healthiest message, but it was the message at the time and it was my story.”
Changing his tune, Kennedy described the message he carries today.
“Today is a lot different as it’s a message of solution, how we need to work differently within our government systems that have the legislative mandate to protect kids. We have to understand the impact of this type of crime on our kids and how they are all linked together. We have to pull together as a community to address this.”
Since sharing his story, Kennedy has written a book, his life story was made into a movie and has been awarded numerous awards counting the recent honour of being named a Member of the Order of Canada.
“To be recognized at that level with the Governor General (at) Rideau Hall was something special to me. I get choked up with gratitude because I spent the majority of my life, my early years, never thinking I was going to make it to the next day. When good things happen to me it feels good. It continues to give me hope,” he said on the honour. He also added that he doesn’t do this work for awards, but it does mean that his message is getting somewhere.
“To me that means we’re getting somewhere and whether I like it or not my name represents sexual abuse.”
Kennedy currently serves on the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre board. The Centre is the first of its kind in Canada, according to the centre’s website, and offers victims of child abuse a wide assortment of support.
“He detailed the value of having an advocacy centre such as the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre in Calgary and of building and maintaining community partnerships to best support survivors of sexual violence,” said Shopland.
The LSAIC is in the beginning stages of renovating the centre to create a more accommodating, safe and comfortable environment where children and youth can be supported during their interview process.
This is a major project for the LSAIC according to Shopland, who is excited to see the centre’s services expand in the area while securing partnerships with local organizations. Renovations begin this summer.
Any interested contributors to the project can share their support through contacting LSAIC directly at 306-825-8255 or visiting www.indiegogo.com; project name Child Counseling and Advocacy Centre.
The City of Lloydminster proclaimed May 17th to May 23rd 2015 as Sexual Assault Awareness Week.