Former professional ice hockey player Sheldon Kennedy is calling for Hockey Canada CEO Scott Smith, his leadership team and the board of directors to resign immediately, according to a statement released Tuesday.
“Giving my 26 years of advocating for victims, I can’t sit idle any longer,” Kennedy said in his statement post on Twitter.
Kennedy’s statement comes after Hockey Canada announced a plan to combat any “toxic” behaviour in hockey.
The plan was announced a day before the start of the second round of parliamentary hearings into the organization’s handling of an alleged sexual assault incident complaint.
In his statement, Kennedy wrote that expecting different results from “the same people with a new plan” is “the definition of insanity.”
“Enough is enough already,” he wrote.
Child abuse victim advocate Sheldon Kennedy
In 1996, Kennedy disclosed that he was sexually abused by his coach Graham James during his time in the Western Hockey League between 1984 and 1990.
Since then, Kennedy has been an advocate for sexual abuse survivors in sports, especially in the hockey sector.
James was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in 1997 and the Canadian Hockey Association banned him for life from coaching. After his sentence had expired, James faced more sexual assault charges in 2015 while serving his five-year sentence for abusing former NHL player Theo Fleury.
Lawyer Greg Gilhooly, who was also abused by James as a young hockey player, tweeted that he echoes Kennedy’s statement.
Gilhooly tweeted that he restated his call for Hockey Canada’s board and senior management to resign earlier Monday on a CTV show.
“May there be strength in numbers as we collectively move for positive change,” Gilhooly wrote.
Why is Hockey Canada facing scrutiny?
In May, TSN first reported that Hockey Canada had settled an alleged sexual assault lawsuit involving eight members of the 2018 World Juniors championship team.
The settlement involved a woman who alleged she was assaulted while intoxicated in a hotel in London, Ont., following a Hockey Canada Foundation celebration event.
Global News reached out to the agents for all players who were on the 2018 Hockey Canada team and since then, several players have released public statements denying their involvement.
In June, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage called upon Hockey Canada to testify about its involvement in a case of alleged sexual assaults committed in 2018.
On July 19, an affidavit filed in an Ontario court case suggests Hockey Canada reserved a fund to pay for uninsured liabilities, including sexual abuse claims, the Canadian Press reported.
Shortly after the reports surfaced, Hockey Canada said in a statement on July 20 that “effective immediately” the so-called National Equity Fund “will no longer be used to settle sexual assault claims.”
‘It got to the point where I became suicidal’: Ex-player reflects on hockey’s toxic culture
On July 22, Hockey Canada and Halifax police confirmed that they are investigating an “alleged group sexual assault” that involved members of the 2002-03 world junior hockey championship team.
As the House of Commons heritage committee resumed its meeting on Tuesday, members of Parliament were told that Sport Canada was aware of an alleged sexual assault in 2018, but did not inform the sport minister’s office.
The committee is set to question leadership from Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League, the Western Hockey League and the Ligue de Hockey Junior Majeur du Québec on Wednesday.
— with files from Global’s Rachel Gilmore and The Canadian Press
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