Former NHL Player | Author of Why I Didn't Say Anything
Sheldon Kennedy skated for three teams in his eight-year NHL career, but he is likely best known for his courageous decision to charge his Major Junior Hockey League coach with sexual assault for the abuse he suffered while a teenager under his care. Since then, Sheldon has become an unofficial spokesperson for millions of abuse survivors around the world, speaking about the importance of hope for survivors, an end to the stigma surrounding sexual abuse, and his desire to see meaningful penalties given to perpetrators.
Sheldon has been instrumental in bringing governments, public and private sector partners together to work collaboratively to influence policy change and improve the way child abuse is handled. He has influenced changes in Canadian law, and has taken his message to the International Olympic Committee and the US Senate.
Sheldon is the Lead Director at the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, the first-of-its-kind in Canada, offering full wrap-around services for victims of child abuse. He is also the co-founder of Respect Group Inc., which provides empowering online abuse, bullying, and harassment prevention education to sport organizations, schools, and the workplace.
After retiring from the NHL, Sheldon in-line skated across Canada to raise awareness of abuse issues. The skate resulted in $1.2 million for The Canadian Red Cross Abuse Prevention Services. In 2006, Sheldon wrote his memoir Why I Didn’t Say Anything, a riveting account of the many psychological impacts of abuse he suffered. His story was also made into an award-winning television film, and he has shared his story with countless media appearances, including appearing on Oprah, Nightline, W-5, and The Fifth Estate. In 1997, he was named Canada’s Newsmaker of the Year.
In 2016, the documentary Swift Current featured Sheldon’s story, providing a startling and never before seen look at recovery from childhood sexual abuse trauma.
Sheldon has received numerous awards, including being named a Member of The Order of Canada (2015); a Member of the Order of Manitoba (2015); receiving the Lincoln Alexander Outstanding Leader Award from the University of Guelph (2015); the David Foster Foundation Humanitarian Award (2014); the Calgary Citizen of the Year award (2013); the Scotiabank Humanitarian Award (2012); and the Canadian Red Cross Caring Award (2007). In 2015, he also received an Honourary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Calgary.