Sheldon Kennedy, ex-NHL player sexually abused by junior coach, selected to Order of Canada

Sheldon Kennedy hopes receiving one of Canada’s top honors will help draw attention to child abuse.

The 45-year-old former NHL player, sexually abused by his junior hockey coach in the 1980s, was one of 95 admissions and promotions to the Order of Canada announced Friday.

“I’m not doing this work to win awards for Sheldon Kennedy,” Kennedy said. “I’m doing this work because I understand the damage that this crime has on our kids. And it’s killing our kids.”

Kennedy has opened an advocacy center in Calgary, Alberta, and has become a leading voice for sexual abuse victims following his experience with former major junior coach Graham James.

“For these issues to represented and understood and to be recognized at this level, to me, is absolutely huge,” Kennedy said. “My message is really about hope, and that you’re not alone. Our country is a lot more understanding of these issues today than we were even 10 years ago, and to me that should give people confidence to come forward.”

Richard Pound, the former International Olympic Committee executive and who also was president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, was elevated to the highest level of the order, a companion.

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