Sheldon Kennedy, who played for Canada’s National Junior Team at the IIHF World Junior Championship in 1988 and 1989, was officially invested as a Member of the Order of Canada during a ceremony May 8 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Ont.
Kennedy was announced as of 95 new appointees by the Governor General's office on Dec. 26.
He was a member of the Canadian contingent that travelled to Moscow to win Canada’s third World Juniors gold medal in 1988 and returned the following year, finishing fourth in Anchorage, Alaska.
The Elkhorn, Man., native played three seasons with the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League, helping the team win the Memorial Cup in 1989, when he was named to the tournament all-star team.
He was selected 80th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft, and played 10 NHL seasons with Detroit, the Calgary Flames and Boston Bruins, recording 107 points in 310 games.
Kennedy’s playing career ended in 1998 and he turned his attention to off-ice issues, where unquestionably he has made his biggest impact on Canada’s game, and on the country as a whole.
In 2004, he joined with Wayne McNeil to found Respect Group, an organization that works to empower people to recognize and prevent abuse, bullying, and harassment, both in the arena and in their community.
Respect Group celebrated a decade of making a difference this year, and its programs continue to prosper.
The activity leader program is used by national sport organizations from coast to coast to coast, from hockey to gymnastics, and it is mandatory for all coaches in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
In addition to its parent program, there are respect programs for the workplace and the classroom, meaning Kennedy has and his organization have the opportunity to affect Canadians in so many walks of life.
And Respect Group is one of the major sponsors of the Hockey Canada Century Tour, meaning millions of Canadians will learn about the organization, and about its goals and vision for a bullying-free Canada.
“For these issues to be represented and understood and to be recognized at this level, to me, is absolutely huge” Kennedy told CBC at the time of his appointment in December. “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.”
The Order of Canada was established in 1967 to “recognize outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.” More than 6,000 people have been named members since its inception.