An Evening with Sheldon Kennedy

CMHA NEWS RELEASE: An Evening with Sheldon Kennedy

Renowned child welfare advocate to headline Mental Health Week in Kenora

(Kenora, March 7, 2016) – Sheldon Kennedy, one of Canada’s leading child welfare advocates, will share his personal story about how those who suffer from abuse are also impacted from a mental health standpoint.

Kennedy is scheduled to speak in Kenora, Ont., as part of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s 65th annual Mental Health Week.

The free event will take place at Pope John Paul II School on May 5. Those interested in attending can register on the event’s webpage.

“It’s important to ensure we are creating safe environments and communities to allow those who have been affected to feel supported and come forward,” said Sara Dias, CMHA Kenora executive director.

Kennedy was sexually abused by his former coach while playing junior hockey in Swift Current, Sask., in the late 1980s. He went on to play 310 NHL games with Detroit, Calgary and Boston, but lived with mental health issues for years and struggled through thoughts of suicide.

Since retiring from professional hockey, Kennedy has gone on to become a major voice in Canada for victims of abuse. He is the lead director at the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, which offers services for victims of child abuse. He is also the co-founder of Respect Group Inc., which provides empowering online education to sport organizations, schools and workplaces about abuse, bullying and harassment prevention.

Kennedy was named to the Order of Canada in December 2014 for “his courageous leadership in raising awareness of childhood sexual abuse and his continued efforts to prevent abuse in schools, sports and communities.”

“Sheldon Kennedy has demonstrated great strength in coming forward and sharing his story and by being a role model for those who also may be struggling with the effects of sexual abuse,” said Dias.

This event would not be possible without the support of local partners the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Kenora Substance Abuse & Mental Health Task Force, Kenora Catholic District School Board, DTL Carpentry, BDO, Kenora Chiefs Advisory, RVI, Lumber One Building Supplies, Kendall House B&B and Bowman Electric Ltd.

“Listening to Sheldon speak will be a tremendous experience for anyone in the community, including members of the OPP,” said Dave Lucas, Inspector and Detachment Commander for OPP North West Region, a key funder for the event. “This event will be beneficial for our members as we strive to learn more about the issue of mental health and addictions in order to better support the public and the men and women in our police service.”

About Canadian Mental Health Association, Kenora Branch

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Kenora Branch is dedicated to providing responsive recovery oriented mental health services through treatment, rehabilitation, support and the involvement of consumers, family members and the community by supporting mentally healthy people living with dignity in a caring and inclusive society. The Canadian Mental Health Association, Kenora Branch offers a range of programs and services, from awareness campaigns to training workshops to individual and group treatment.