Impact beyond hockey ushers O’Ree, Kennedy into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Impact beyond hockey ushers O’Ree, Kennedy into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

CALGARY — For Sheldon Kennedy and Willie O’Ree, sport was a vehicle for societal change.

NHL players have been inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame before, but usually for their body of work on the ice.

What’s unique about the induction of Kennedy and O’Ree is they enter the Hall as builders.

O’Ree, now 84, overcame racism to be the first black player in the NHL.

The Fredericton winger broke the NHL’s colour barrier in 1958 playing for the Boston Bruins and went onto play 45 games for the organization.

Kennedy, from Elkhorn, Man., was sexually abused by his junior hockey coach. After a 10-year NHL career, he devoted his life to the prevention of abuse, bullying and harassment in sport.

“An induction, an acknowledgment such as Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, with the issues that Willie represents, I represent, I think brings an importance to them, allows us to keep doing the work and keep moving forward in this area,” Kennedy told The Canadian Press.

“Championships are important. People love to watch championships, but I come from a place where I see sport as a platform and as a vehicle to really deliver and move difficult issues. That’s what we’re seeing this year.”

Basketball player Steve Nash, golfer Lorie Kane, track and field athlete Diane Jones-Konihowski, wheelchair curler Sonja Gaudet, the horse-and-rider team of Eric Lamaze and Hickstead, and power lifter powerlifter John (Jackie) Barrett were the athletes announced Wednesday for induction.

Mohawk lacrosse player and coach Ross Powless, wheelchair rugby founder and player Duncan Campbell and Commonwealth Games leader Judy Kent join O’Ree and Kennedy as builders.

The Sports Hall of Fame is inducting six athletes and five builders in recognition of its 65th anniversary in 2020.

The annual fall induction gala has been postponed to 2021 because of COVID-19.

“In these uncertain times, we are thrilled to be able to share a good news story and to have this remarkable group of people to induct into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame next year,” Hall president and chief executive officer Cheryl Bernard said in a statement.

The Hall, located in Calgary, has now inducted 681 athletes and builders.

Nash, from Victoria, played 18 years in the NBA. The guard was twice named the league’s most valuable player.

Charlottetown’s Kane earned four career LPGA victories.

She became the second Canadian to earn multiple LPGA titles in one season in 2000, following Sandra Post and preceding Brooke Henderson.

“My first win stands out as something quite significant because it did take me a little while to get there,” Kane said.

“I was taught by my parents to leave it better than I found it. I hope that I’ve done that with my sport of golf and sport in general because I frankly wouldn’t be here without the introduction of sport in my life.”

Montreal’s Lamaze and Hickstead won Olympic show-jumping gold and team silver at the 2008 Olympic Games.

Hickstead, who died in the competition ring in 2011, is the third horse to earn induction joining racehorse Northern Dancer (1965) and Ian Millar’s show-jumping steed Big Ben (1996).

“I’m especially happy for Hickstead,” Lamaze said in a statement. “In our sport, it takes two athletes, one human and one equine, working together and in Hickstead I found a true partner.”

Vancouver’s Jones-Konihowski claimed pentathlon gold at Commonwealth and Pan American Games.

The two-time Olympian was a medal contender for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, but Canada boycotted those games.

Sonja Gaudet of Vernon, B.C., won three gold medals in Paralympic curling.

Barrett, from Halifax, earned a career 13 gold powerlifting medals in the Special Olympics World Games.

Powless, from the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation, Ont., was a standout lacrosse player who went on to coach players to success and organize lacrosse leagues and tournaments.

He died in 2003 at the age 76. Powless’s late son Gaylord was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017.

“Dad came from a lacrosse history in terms of the culture,” Powless’s son Richard said. “Lacrosse was referred to as the creator’s game, historically and culturally used to settle disputes. It was a medicine game to help heal people.

“He excelled at it from a young age and he continued that throughout his career winning many individual awards in scoring and MVP player on several championship with Peterborough in the fifties.

“My dad would have been very proud knowing he was joining Gaylord. It means a lot to our family.”

Winnipeg’s Campbell is known as “The Quadfather” because he was one of the inventors of the sport known today as wheelchair rugby. He played for and coached the national team.

Kent, from Picton, Ont., was the first woman to serve as president of Commonwealth Games Canada from 1994 to 1998.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2020.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

Sports

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Front-line hospital workers have walked off the job at the Rimbey Hospital, and across the province. Photo Submitted
Front-line health care workers on strike across the province, including Rimbey Hospital

The strike is due to cut of 11,000 health care jobs in the province, according to AUPE

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed more than 1,000 cases over the weekend Monday afternoon. File photo
COVID-19: Central zone active cases up Monday

‘We’ve now crossed the tipping point,’ says Hinshaw

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

Ma & Paws Pet Supplies. Facebook/ Ma & Paws Pet Supplies.
Rimbey residents petition for dog park

Request for approval of dog park will be brought up at Tuesday Oct. 27 Town Council meeting.

The future site of the Rimbey Travel Centre. Web photo
New Rimbey development aims to capitalize on highway traffic

Phase I of the Rimbey Travel Centre would be along Hwy. 20, if approved

(Emily Jaycox/Bashaw Star)
Wreath laying ceremony held in Manfred, Alta.

Ceremony marks 64th anniversary of Hungarian revolution, honours settlers

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

Wetaskiwin Hospital staff join AUPE walk outs across the province Monday Oct. 26, 2020. Shaela Dansereau/ The Pipestone Flyer.
City of Wetaskiwin health-care workers strike in protest of province-wide cuts

Wetaskiwin Hospital staff join other front line hospital workers across the province in walk-outs.

The death of 19-year-old Jacob Michael Chitze of Edmonton has now been ruled a homicide following an ongoing RCMP investigation.
UPDATE: RCMP arrest youth for second degree murder of 19-year-old Jacob Chitze

Arrest made for the murder of Jacob Michael Chitze, 19.

Pumpkins for the 46th Annual WDACS Pumpkin Ball on display at Vision Credit Union Wetaskiwin. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
46th Annual Pumpkin Ball held virtually this year

This year the pumpkins were sold over a six-day online auction.

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Leader of the Opposition Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Thursday October 22, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
O’Toole tells Alberta UCP AGM Liberals were ‘late and confused’ on COVID response

He says Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has taken charge and not waited to make things happen

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Inquiry into oil and gas foes to deliver report next year: Kenney

A lawsuit filed by environmental law firm Ecojustice argues the inquiry is politically motivated

Most Read