Manitoba

Sheldon Kennedy inspires Manitoba to create law to protect kids from sexual predators

Manitoba's new premier says his government is writing a law to better protect children from predators.

Protecting Children Act announced by Premier Brian Pallister at event for Sheldon Kennedy

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says Sheldon Kennedy inspired the new law his government is planning to introduce. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

Manitoba's new premier says his government is writing a law to better protect children from predators.

Brian Pallister announced the Protecting Children Act on Tuesday evening during an event with Sheldon Kennedy, the former NHLer who was sexually assaulted in his youth by his hockey coach Graham James.

"Our legislation is a necessary first step towards the establishment of a made-in-Manitoba collaborative model that puts our children first," Pallister said.

Sheldon Kennedy was in Winnipeg to premiere his documentary, Swift Current, which explores the trauma he experienced at the hands of Graham James and the long road to recovery that he endured.
He didn't say when the legislation would be introduced or exactly how it will work, but he promised it will "make it easier to share information between government departments, between child and family service authorities and among community service providers and law enforcement agencies when dealing with victimized and at-risk children."

"Better information sharing is essential to enable those service providers and members of law enforcement agencies to provide quicker responses, effective prevention, early intervention and treatment services," Pallister said, adding "it's directly inspired by the efforts of Sheldon Kennedy."

Kennedy was in Winnipeg to premiere his documentary, Swift Current, which explores the trauma he experienced at the hands of James and the long road to recovery that he endured.

In 1997, James pleaded guilty to 300 counts of abuse against Kennedy, who had played for James and went on to an NHL career, and 50 counts against another player.

Kennedy hopes the documentary will help people better understand what he and his former teammates endured, and exactly how difficult it is for sex assault survivors to find the help they need.

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