Time To Stop Bullying With Respect In The Workplace 

Sheldon Kennedy Shares His Journey Educating People About Respect in the Workplace

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In This Episode

Our Shifting The Employee Experience series has allowed us to speak with some amazing guests who are all working to make mental health and mental wellbeing a widely talked about topic. We feel very fortunate to have been joined by Sheldon Kennedy, former NHL player and long time advocate of Respect in the Workplace and Respect in Sport.  

Through Respect Group, he works to bring educational programs to workplaces, in sports and schools. These programs give people a baseline understanding and make it possible to build a climate of openness, so people are empowered to not only self-advocate about their mental wellbeing but to check in with others. Sheldon’s perspective that it’s not about being perfect, but being available to listen and give feedback from an honest, caring place helps to highlight how we can all play a role in making our workplaces, schools and sports teams safer for everyone. 




Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Episode Breakdown

First 10 Minutes
Greg welcomes us back to another episode in our partnership series. Dave and Dr Bill introduces us to the topic for this episode which is Bullying in the Workplace. Dr Bill explains how we are missing opportunities to improve our abilities to deal with bullying in the workplace and identifying bullying behaviours, so employees feel comfortable self-advocating. We met our guest Sheldon Kennedy, a former NHL player who spoke out about the sexual abuse he went through at the hands of his junior coach and the work he’s been able to do to bring awareness to the issue. 

10 Minutes – 20 Minutes
Sheldon shares how the educational programs he has worked to create has trained over 1.4 million people in Canada and how he often sees how people do not know where to start. Sheldon explains the issues that he experienced himself and the areas we need to improve to address this issue entirely. Dr Bill asks Sheldon about the workplace training he is involved in and how it is helping to solve the problems of bullying in the workplace. Sheldon explains how the training is about building a baseline of education for the workplace to start the path of dealing with bullying in the workplace. Sheldon emphasizes how we need to talk and check in on people and stop avoiding having difficult conversations. 

20 Minutes – 30 Minutes 
Dave asks what advice Sheldon has for people who are finding it hard to advocate for themselves and how we can show up for them. Sheldon says that when he takes care of himself, he feels better able to show up for others and listen to them. Sheldon says it’s about getting better every single day. Dr Bill asks what Sheldon would tell people wanting to make sure their workplace is safe. Sheldon says that you have to start by getting an education, so everyone is on the same page and then focusing on how to practice improving communication and having check-ins. 

Sheldon Kennedy

Sheldon Kennedy

Former NHL Player | Author of Why I Didn't Say Anything | Co-Founder Respect Group Inc.

Sheldon Kennedy skated for three teams in his eight-year NHL career, but he is likely best known for his courageous decision to charge his Major Junior Hockey League coach with sexual assault for the abuse he suffered while a teenager under his care. Since then, Kennedy has become an inspiration for millions of abuse survivors around the world, speaking about the importance of hope for survivors, an end to the stigma surrounding sexual abuse, and his desire to see meaningful penalties given to perpetrators.

Kennedy has been instrumental in bringing governments, public, and private sector partners together to work collaboratively to influence policy change and improve the way child abuse is handled. He has influenced changes in Canadian law, and has taken his message to the International Olympic Committee and the US Senate.

Kennedy co-founded the Calgary & Area Child Advocacy Centre, the first-of-its-kind in Canada, which offers full wrap-around services for victims of child abuse. He is also the co-founder of Respect Group, which provides empowering online abuse, bullying, and harassment prevention education to sport organizations, schools, and the workplace.

After retiring from the NHL, Kennedy in-line skated across Canada to raise awareness of child abuse issues. The skate resulted in $1.2 million raised in donations, which he donated towards abuse prevention programs. In 2006, Kennedy wrote his memoir Why I Didn’t Say Anything, a riveting account of the many psychological impacts of abuse he suffered. His life story was also made into an award-winning television film, and he has shared his story in countless media appearances, including on Oprah, ABC’s Nightline, W-5, and The Fifth Estate. In 1997, he was named Canada’s Newsmaker of the Year.

In 2016, the documentary Swift Current featured Kennedy’s story, providing a startling and never before seen look at recovery from childhood sexual abuse trauma.

For his tireless work, Kennedy has received numerous awards, including being named a Member of The Order of Canada (2015) and a Member of the Order of Manitoba (2015), and receiving the Hockey Canada Order of Merit (2018), the Alberta Order of Excellence (2016), Lincoln Alexander Outstanding Leader Award from the University of Guelph (2015), the David Foster Foundation Humanitarian Award (2014), the Calgary Citizen of the Year award (2013), the Scotiabank Humanitarian Award (2012), and the Canadian Red Cross Caring Award (2007).

Kennedy also received an Honourary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Regina (2018), the University of Calgary (2015) and the University of Fraser Valley (2012), as well as an Honourary Bachelor of Business Administration from SAIT (2016) and an Honourary Bachelor of Child Studies and Child and Youth Care from Mount Royal University (2016).

About Respect Group Inc.

Respect Group was incorporated on April 5th, 2004 by co-founders, Sheldon Kennedy and Wayne McNeil, to pursue their common passion: the prevention of bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination (BAHD). Respect Group is made up of a team of 30 talented individuals whose passion is to create a global culture of Respect.

We have enlisted pre-eminent experts to develop a best in class curriculum and e-learning platform. Expert content and a professional online training and certification model round out Respect Group’s fully outsourced risk management behaviour-change solutions for sport, schools and the workplace.

Thank you to our partners!

Shifting the Employee Experience is presented in partnership with the University of New Brunswick College of Extended Learning, featuring the online High Impact Corporate Learning Program! Workplace health, safety, wellness and leadership are competencies that significantly impact a workforce. Strength in these areas is crucial for success in a corporate environment. Build capacity of your entire team with specialized courses! UNB Online! Learn more! Visit go.unb.ca/iclp-podcast


Every worker. Healthy and safe. Every day.

Workplace Safety & Prevention Services is a not-for-profit organization committed to protecting workers and businesses. WSPS serves the manufacturing, agricultural and service sectors in Ontario supporting over 167,000 member firms and 4.1 million workers. WSPS offers unparalleled health and safety expertise, consulting, training and resources. Our mandate includes helping businesses understand their risks and legal obligations to stay in compliance and build safer workplaces.