Skip to content

Sheldon Kennedy named recipient of WHL Governor’s Award

Prestigious honour presented to former Warrior in honour of tireless work as anti-abuse advocate
Sheldon Kennedy is the 2020 WHL Governor's Award recipient.
Former Moose Jaw Warriors forward Sheldon Kennedy has another honour to his name – and this time, it’s the highest award the Western Hockey League can give to one of its former participants.

The WHL announced Wednesday that Kennedy – a long-time anti-abuse advocate and founder of Respect Group Inc -- is the 2020 recipient of the WHL Governor’s Award.

“As a young boy I dreamed of playing hockey and maybe, one day, in the WHL. I never would have thought that my dream would change so much,” Kennedy said. “By working together we have no doubt made hockey and the WHL a leader in RESPECT for all. I am grateful and honoured to be recognized for the WHL Governors Award and accept it on behalf of all those who have given their voice to positive change and for those leaders who have shown courage to implement that change.”

Kennedy’s story is well documented, having suffered abuse at the hands of a former coach while he played in Moose Jaw and Swift Current. Rather than endure a lifetime of dealing with the after-effects of such trauma, Kennedy opened up about his experiences and has since become a tireless advocate for the elimination of such situations in sports as well as helping those who have been through similar experiences.

“For over 20 years, Sheldon Kennedy has been regarded as Canada’s leading advocate for a safe and positive environment for athletes,” said WHL commissioner Ron Robison. “Sheldon’s work in the respect area has been an inspiration, not only to athletes and sport organizations across Canada, but to millions of abuse survivors.

“Sheldon had an outstanding junior hockey career, but his legacy will be measured by the contributions he has made to ensure young athletes can safely pursue their athletic endeavours without fear of harassment or abuse.”

The WHL Governors Award is presented annually to an individual who, through their outstanding hockey and overall contributions to the game, has impacted the growth and development of the league.

Kennedy began his career with the Warriors in 1984-85 before moving over the Swift Current Broncos, where he’d captain the 1988-89 squad to a WHL and Memorial Cup championship.

Appearing in 310 NHL regular-season games between 1989 and 1997, Kennedy played for the Detroit Red Wings, Calgary Flames and Boston Bruins as part of his professional hockey career.

It was his time after hockey where Kennedy really made his mark.

Since disclosing his personal experience of abuse, Kennedy has become a leading advocate for the empowerment of young athletes. A co-founder of the Respect Group Inc. with Wayne McNeil, Kennedy has been instrumental in the establishment of national programming to educate and empower athletes and sports leaders on the importance of respect.

Kennedy’s leadership has helped transform the game of hockey and sport throughout Canada. His efforts have helped foster collaborative efforts between governments at all levels and the private sector. Together, they’ve supported respect education initiatives while making improvements to abuse-related policies and laws.

In 2020, Kennedy was named an honouree of the Order of Hockey in Canada. He was also invested as a Member of the Order of Canada in 2014, inducted to the Order of Manitoba in 2015, was appointed to the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2016 and was named a recipient of the Hockey Canada Order of Merit in 2018.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks