Saving the planet has as much to do with social issues as environmental ones. Poverty, women’s equality, child labour and many more issues need our attention. One of these challenges is the way we treat each other. Bullying, harassment and discrimination are still prevalent today especially with social media providing a screen to hide behind.
I recall taking my young son to early morning hockey practice many years ago. It turned out he wasn’t aggressive enough to pursue the game, which was made incredibly clear to him by the hissing and name-calling coming from the parents. It wasn’t pretty. It was condescending and cruel. I had no idea that this was just ‘part of the hockey scene’ at the time and decided this was not an atmosphere we wanted to be part of.
Thank goodness things are changing.
One Canadian group leading the change is Respect Group Inc, co-founded by Wayne McNeil and Sheldon Kennedy.
Respect Group is Canada’s first abuse, discrimination, bullying and harassment prevention online training program for community sport organizations, schools and corporations. In 2007, Wayne was awarded the Canadian Red Cross Caring Award for his leadership in the promotion of violence and abuse prevention education.
In 2015, the Ontario Minor Hockey Association launched a new respect campaign in partnership with Respect Group Inc, where every member association received a ‘Respect in Hockey’ sign customized for their association to display in their local arena.
Co-founder Sheldon won a Memorial Cup, World Junior Gold Medal and skated for three teams in his eight-year NHL career. He is best known for his courageous decision to charge his Major Junior Hockey league coach with sexual assault for the abuse he suffered over a five year period while a teenager under his care. Through this disclosure, and the important work that Sheldon continues to do, he has become an inspiration to millions of abuse survivors around the world. He has received many awards for his tireless work including the Hockey Canada Order of Merit in 2018.
Over one million individuals have been educated in sport, youth serving organizations, schools, and the workplace through the Respect Group training programs.
"The implementation of the Respect in School Program and sharing Sheldon Kennedy’s journey of hope and healing is one of the most powerful things I have done in my sixteen-year teaching career."
~Craig Eagles, Teacher at Moncton High School
This makes me hopeful that my grandchildren will be treated with respect and tolerance should they decide to give hockey a go.
Watch the documentary exploring former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy's journey from young hockey player sexually abused by his junior hockey coach, Graham James, to Kennedy's work today as a crusader for victims of abuse in Canada and worldwide.
Respect Group is a certified B Corporation. https://bcorporation.net/
Certified B Corporations are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. This is a community of leaders, driving a global movement of people using business as a force for good.