Former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy, known as a champion of survivors of child and sexual abuse, will receive the 2015 Lincoln Alexander Outstanding Leader Award from the University of Guelph.
Kennedy will be recognized May 27 by U of G’s College of Business and Economics (CBE).
The award honours exemplary and dedicated Canadian leaders whose careers have included groundbreaking, socially significant pursuits.
U of G’s highest leadership award was created in 2006 in memory of the late Lincoln Alexander, who served as Guelph’s chancellor for an unprecedented 15 years.
Past recipients include former prime minister Paul Martin; Louise Arbour, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada; Rick Hillier, retired Canadian general and former chief of the defence staff of the Canadian Forces; and Frank McKenna, former New Brunswick premier and Canadian ambassador to the United States.
Kennedy played for the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames. He is perhaps better known for revealing his sexual abuse by his former junior coach, Graham James. Kennedy’s testimony led to James’s conviction.
Kennedy has raised more than $1 million for sexual abuse victims. He has influenced changes in Canadian law and spoken for child victims before the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Senate.
“Sheldon is a most deserving recipient of this prestigious leadership award; it is an honour to welcome him to the University of Guelph and inspire students in our master of arts leadership program with his story,” said Julia Christensen Hughes, dean of CBE.
“Through his tremendous courage in publicly sharing his own devastating experience as a teenager, he has not only placed the spotlight on sexual abuse in hockey but has also helped pave the way for other victims to come forward and to receive support and understanding when they do.”
The Respect Group, a company co-founded by Kennedy, provides online education to prevent abuse, bullying, and harassment in sport, schools and the workplace.
In 2013, he established the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, which works to investigate, treat, prevent, educate and research child abuse.
“His 2006 book, Why I Didn’t Say Anything, has deepened understanding of the many psychological impacts of abuse,” said Christensen Hughes.
Kennedy’s life story was made into an award-winning television movie, and he has appeared on Oprah, ABC’s Nightline, W-5 and The Fifth Estate.