Swift Current unveils childhood safety initiative with former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy
The documentary film, Swift Current, will be screened in southwestern Saskatchewan city tonight
The city of Swift Current has unveiled a program to support childhood safety — with former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy lending his assistance.
Swift Current Broncos coach Graham James was convicted of sexually assaulting six players, including Kennedy and Theoren Fleury, while coaching the community-owned Western Hockey League team between 1986 and 1994.
Kennedy, along with a city committee, have been working on a certification tool that would include a criminal record check.
It would also include training to prevent bullying, harassment and abuse.
The initiative is called Safe Places and is aimed at anyone who has interactions with children.
"It's hugely important," Kennedy said of ensuring checks and that training is provided to a wide group. He said hockey organizations have done a lot to protect children and that needs to expand.
"There's been a gap, you know: the private coach, the music teacher, the day home ... how do we give confidence within that community," he said.
"I had to deal with this stuff a long time ago, to move on," Kennedy added, about his own experience. "I feel that, today, this is an opportunity that we can all move forward - not forget what went on, but move forward in a solution-focussed manner."
Kennedy also spoke about a public apology issued by the mayor of Swift Current, Jerrod Schafer, to former junior hockey players who were molested by the former Broncos coach.
"I think that there's no city in this country that's in a better position to take a leadership role in the way that we protect our children than Swift Current," he said.
As part of Friday's announcement, a screening was set for the new documentary film, Swift Current, which is about the sexual abuse Kennedy and the young hockey players experienced.
"I think it will be very powerful," Kennedy said, ahead of the screening.
James served 3½ years in prison for sex offences against Kennedy and two other hockey players.