A hockey coach who spoke out about hazing he experienced as a player, and the impact the incident has had on him, is being honoured as a Manitoba hero.
Carson Shields is one of five Manitobans who will be recognized at the 2014 Our Manitoba Heroes gala in September.
Our Manitoba Heroes recipients for 2014
- Susan Krepart: Mother of two who started a Facebook campaign to raise money and increase baby formula donations to Winnipeg Harvest.
- Jordan Bighorn: Program manager for Pathways to Education, a student support program, Bighorn works with youth and members of the community, and coached a volleyball team for Manitoba at the North American Indigenous Games.
- Lyle Bauer: Bauer was involved with the CFL for 25 years and founded the Never Alone Foundation, an organization that has raised over $800,000 for cancer research and support programs.
- Ace Burpee: Host of The Ace Burpee Show on 103.1 Virgin Radio.
“I don’t really feel like I’m deserving of anything like this,” he said. “What I did and what I said, coming out with my story, I never did it to be a hero. I did it to get it off my chest and to help another kid or another athlete.”
Last January, Shields revealed to CBC News that he and other players were hazed at a rookie party. He said he was one of several rookies who were forced to get naked and perform degrading acts.
Shields said the hazing sent him into a tailspin of drug and alcohol abuse, and he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He eventually recovered with help from a therapist.
He now coaches hockey and is an activist for change in the sport.
"If a player or an athlete reaches out, whether that be someone that I coached or not, I'll 100 per cent listen and try to give whatever guidance or whatever advice that I could," he said on Tuesday.
Shields said he was surprised to find out his peers had nominated him for the award last month.
"There’s a lot of things in my life that I’ve done that I’m not proud of — a lot of things that I’ve had to make amends for and a lot of things that I still have to make amends for," he said.
"Having my name tied to any type of hero is something that I struggle with."
Others being recognized
Another award recipient, Susan Krepart, is recognized for collecting infant formula donations for Winnipeg Harvest.
"Do I consider myself a hero? No," she said.
Krepart said she started a Facebook campaign after she learned in December that the food bank was facing a severe shortage of infant formula.
"I don't know what came over me but I just started crying in my kitchen," she recalled.
"My kids were playing, the Christmas decorations were up, and there was so much going on in the world, and it was just that series of bad news all the time … and I heard that, and I was like, 'Enough!'"
Also being honoured this year is Jordan Bighorn, who works with at-risk youth and helps them graduate from high school.
"I feel like this work is so critical because if I desire for my own children to have a brighter future, if I desire in my golden years — if I make it that far — to have a future I desire, it's going to be in the hands of our youth today," he said.
This is the second year for the Our Manitoba Heroes awards. Winners are nominated by the public and chosen by a selection committee.
"When you think about your career and where you are in your life, and where you are in your life … hopefully everybody has somebody out there that they would like to have recognized for what they've done for them," said chairperson and former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Paul Bennett.
The Our Manitoba Heroes Gala is on Sept. 27 at the Fairmont Hotel. Organizers are encouraging people to buy tickets for the gala, with proceeds going to several charities.