Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame announced 11 new inductees on Wednesday.
As the Hall celebrates its 65th anniversary year, the class of 2020-21 features six athletes: Steve Nash, Sonja Gaudet, Diane Jones Konihowski, Eric Lamaze (and horse Hickstead), John “Jackie” Barrett and Lorie Kane; as well as five builders: Willie O’Ree, Sheldon Kennedy, Judy Kent, Ross Powless and Duncan Campbell.
All inductees will also receive the Order of Sport Award — Canada’s highest sporting honour.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the induction event has been postponed until 2021, when the combined class will be formally celebrated. The museum, located in Calgary, announced last month that it has closed its doors for the remainder of 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns.
“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,” Cheryl Bernard, President and CEO of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, said in a press release. “We’ve never been more proud of our sports history, our sports champions, and their community spirit, and we are formally recognizing these athletes and builders for living and sharing sports values – Canada’s shared values; respect, equality, fairness and openness. We look forward to bringing Canada together in 2021 to celebrate this exceptional Class when we induct and award them with the Order of Sport for their beyond sport contributions to our country.”
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Eight-time NBA All-Star Steve Nash brought must-watch Canadian content to the basketball court over the course of his 19-year pro career with the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers. The premier passer became the first Canadian to ever win NBA MVP in 2004-05 (he won it again the following season), and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018.
Hockey Hall of Famer (Class of 2018) Willie O’Ree made hockey history in January 1958 when he debuted with the Boston Bruins and became the first black player in the NHL. His leadership and involvement in many diversity initiatives at all levels of the game has paved the way for many minority youth to thrive in the game.
Sonja Gaudet has been instrumental in putting wheelchair curling on the sports map, and has been recognized with a place in the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame (2013) and the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame (2020). Now retired, the three-time Paralympic gold medallist serves as an alumni ambassador with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and helps make sport more accessible to all.
Lorie Kane represented Canada on the golf course for more than two decades on the international circuit and on the LPGA Tour. Kane was twice named Canadian Female Athlete of the Year and received the Order of Canada in 2006 in recognition of her achievements in women’s golf while setting the stage for others to follow.
Retired NHLer Sheldon Kennedy has dedicated much of his life to advocating for vulnerable athletes and victims of sexual abuse after he himself came forward as a victim of sexual abuse in 1996. Through his involvement with a number of initiatives and organizations – including with the International Olympic Committee, the NHLPA’s substance abuse program, the Calgary Child Advocacy Centre and his own company, the Respect Group – Kennedy is working to make the sporting community a safer and healthier one for all.
Ross Powless is being recognized post-humously for his impact on the game of lacrosse and his leadership as an ambassador for indigenous peoples across the sporting community. His passion and talent for the game could be seen in the many athletes he coached, including his son, Gaylord Powless – also a member of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (class of 2017).
Widely considered one of the most powerful women in Canada’s sports landscape, Judy Kent has been a crucial advocate for other women, those with physical disabilities, and for indigenous athletes in sport and in leadership roles through her expansive career with the Commonwealth Games.
John “Jackie” Barrett’s career as a powerlifter has seen him capture 13 gold medals over four appearances at the Special Olympics World Summer Games. Born with autism, Barrett was twice named Special Olympics Canada Male Athlete of the Year, was the recipient of the Dr. Frank Hayden Athlete Lifetime Achievement Award from Special Olympics Canada and, in 2015, became the first Special Olympian nominated for the Lou Marsh Award.
Eric Lamzae and Hickstead
A formidable pair in the world of equestrian, Eric Lamaze and horse Hickstead won every major Grand Prix title in the world between 2007 and 2011 and reached the height of their dominance at the 2008 Olympic Games when they captured individual show jumping gold and helped propel Team Canada to silver. Hickstead died suddenly in 2011 but is recognized annually with the Hickstead Trophy awarded to Equestrian Canada’s Horse of the Year, established in 2012.
Duncan Campbell played an integral role in bringing wheelchair rugby into the world of sport as an athlete, advocate, and team manager. Now serving as the director of development for Wheelchair Rugby Canada, Campbell was also awarded the International Paralympic Order — the highest honour in para sports.
Diane Jones Konihowski
Diane Jones Konihowski has been a driving force in Canadian sport for more than 45 years, serving in a number of roles with the Canadian Olympic Committee, Coaching Association of Canada, and KidSport, among other organizations. The former Olympic pentathlete and track and field competitor was recognized with the Order of Canada in 1978.