Spoke out on abuse

Hockey player, Sheldon Kennedy’s, courage rewarded

The hotel room was overflowing with support for the 10th anniversary of the Beyond Borders ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography, and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) Canada media awards luncheon in late fall. This annual event honours journalists and documentary filmmakers for exceptional coverage of issues related to child sexual exploitation. Rod Black, voice of CTV Sports and TSN, and Max Poulin, former Winnipeg Goldeyes player and Beyond Borders ambassador, co-hosted the ceremony.

To commemorate the special anniversary, Beyond Borders unveiled the inaugural Rosalind Prober award, named after its co-founder and president. Honoured at the event was former NHL player, Sheldon Kennedy. Sheldon maintains that one of the key components of social change is repeated coverage in the news of court cases, prevention initiatives and legislative changes.

In 1996, with an eight-year National Hockey League career, Sheldon Kennedy made the courageous decision to charge his junior hockey coach with sexual assault. Sheldon’s decision to go public brought these issues to the social forefront. The Rosalind Prober award honoured Sheldon Kennedy as an inspiration to millions of abuse survivors around the world for his fight against child sexual exploitation.

Sheldon believes the media plays an important role in keeping these issues front and centre so change can happen. He gave a moving speech about the power of just showing up. Being there can make a greater impact than one would expect.

Sheldon continues to carry his message through Respect Group Inc., a company he co-founded which provides empowering online education for the prevention of abuse, bullying and harassment. He is encouraged with the number of schools, sporting teams and employers that have already been trained and certified to help make a difference.

Beyond Borders ECPAT is Canada’s global voice against child sexual exploitation. It is an active advocate for improved legislation, monitoring court cases for human rights violations, promoting and supporting effective prevention and intervention initiatives and intervening in court cases to provide a voice for victims as well as provide training and education.

The original Canadian Beyond Borders was founded by Rosalind Prober of Winnipeg and Toronto human rights lawyer Mark Erick Hecht in the mid-1990s to help abused and neglected Canadian children abroad. In 1999, it was granted affiliate status with ECPAT international, and has an ever-expanding team of volunteers across the country dedicated to combating child sexual abuse at the national and international level. ECPAT operates in 75 countries, with a secretariat in Bangkok.

Myrna Driedger, MLA for Charleswood, is deputy PC leader and finance critic in the legislature.

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