By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
Welcome to another inductee spotlight on the extraordinary individuals and teams who will take their place as Honoured Members in the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.
Sheldon Kennedy (Athlete/Builder)
Perseverance defined Sheldon Kennedy’s career as an athlete as well as a builder. Growing up in a small town in Elkhorn, Manitoba, Sheldon played and loved the game of hockey and was recognized for his talents early on.
At the age of 16, he made the leap to the WHL and got his feet wet playing 16 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors. The following year, he joined the Swift Current Broncos, playing there for three seasons and helping them win a Memorial Cup in his final year as team captain.
Sheldon dominated the league for those three years, accumulating 287 points in 159 regular season games and adding another 44 points in 26 playoff games.
In his last two years of junior hockey, Sheldon represented Canada at the Under 20 World Junior Championships, helping them win Gold in 1988.
In 1988, Sheldon was drafted 80th overall by the Detroit Red Wings. His first three seasons as a pro were split between Detroit in the NHL and their farm team in the AHL, Adirondack. There, he helped the Adirondack Red Wings win the Calder Cup in 1992.
In 1994, Sheldon was traded to his home province team, the Winnipeg Jets. Unfortunately, due to the NHL lockout that year, he never got to suit up in a game for them. By the time the lockout ended, Sheldon had moved on to play for the Calgary Flames. The ’96-’97 season was Sheldon’s last in the NHL. Overall, he played 310 games and amassed a total of 107 points.
After retiring, Sheldon launched the Speak Out program with Hockey Canada. Its mandate was to educate and prevent bullying, harassment, and abuse in sport through workshops, resource material, and initiatives delivered by partner organizations.
Sheldon’s story of the abuse he suffered while playing sports growing up made headlines, as he was named newsmaker of the year. He was interviewed over one hundred times, including being on the Oprah Winfrey Show and George Stromboulopolous Show, educating people and bringing awareness to these issues. He also gave keynote speeches at the International FBI Symposium and the Victims of Crime Symposium for the Canadian Federal Department of Justice.
Over the next two decades, Sheldon told his story and worked tirelessly towards creating a safe and respectful environment in sports. Both his dedication and devotion during his playing career and after make him a worthy addition to the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.