Child abuse prevention advocate to receive honorary degree

Posted: June 5, 2018 2:30 p.m.

Sheldon Kennedy will receive an honorary degree at one of three Convocation ceremonies this week.
Sheldon Kennedy will receive an honorary degree at one of three Convocation ceremonies this week. Photo courtesy of Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre.

On June 6, the University of Regina will recognize Sheldon Kennedy with an honorary degree for his advocacy work to prevent bullying, abuse, harrassment, and discrimination. Kennedy’s championing of abuse prevention stems from his own experience of being sexually abused by his coach while playing for the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League.

Near the end of his professional hockey career, in 1996, Kennedy went public about the abuse, and began taking steps to “educate and empower the bystander” - providing tools to people who may have suspicions that abuse is taking place, but are not sure what action to take.

In 1998, Kennedy raised $1.2 million for the Canadian Red Cross’ bullying and abuse prevention programs by roller-blading across Canada. He later co-founded Calgary-based Respect Group Inc., which delivers online training programs designed to prevent bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination in sport, school, and the workplace. More than one million Canadians have completed one of the three programs and are now Respect certified.

Kennedy’s life story was the subject of a television movie that aired in 1999. A video documentary of his life and advocacy activities, titled Swift Current, premiered in that city in 2016 when Kennedy was inducted into the Broncos’ Hall of Fame. He is the lead director of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre in Calgary, which employs a multidisciplinary approach to assess, treat, and seek justice for children who have been physically and sexually abused.

Kennedy's work has been recognized by countless organizations and, in 2015, he was named a Member of the Order of Canada.