Swift Current’s mayor is writing to express sorrow and support for Sheldon Kennedy and other victims of a convicted child predator for the abuse they endured while in the southwest Saskatchewan city.
Jerrod Schafer wrote an editorial in the Globe and Mail addressing the “difficult subject” that faced the city when former hockey coach Graham James was charged and convicted with sexually abusing several former members of the Swift Current Broncos.
“On behalf of an entire community, I want to express sincere and absolute sorrow to the victims of Mr. James and their families. Sons were sent here to chase their dreams and should have left Swift Current with the best memories of their lives,” Schafer wrote.
Schafer goes on to write that “too many players (were) left with a lifetime of nightmares” and society needs to change its attitude and “get comfortable dealing with the subject matter so we actually have a chance at improving prevention.”
On Friday, Swift Current’s Youth Certification and Safe Places strategy officially launches which will require a criminal background check of anyone wishing to work with youth. The youth certification will also include training to become better role models, and education on the prevention of bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination.
“It’s simple – if you don’t want to be youth-certified, either you have something to hide or you aren’t willing to invest in yourself to do a better job of dealing with kids,” Schafer wrote.
The mayor continued that he couldn’t be more proud that the city is leading the change, making sure all staff working with children become youth-certified.