At a time when the pursuit of sport in this country faces enormous challenges and is the subject of national scrutiny, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame is trumpeting a group of people who have made a positive impact on so many fields of play.
The group honoured this year features four-time Olympic hockey champion and medical doctor Hayley Wickenheiser, Olympic champion kayaker Adam van Koeverden, who is now a Member of Parliament for the Ontario riding of Milton, and John Tavares, the greatest pro lacrosse player in Canadian history.
Also enshrined is the Paralympic swimming legend Tim McIsaac, who won an astounding 28 medals at four editions of the Games between 1976 and 1988, as well as soccer great Dwayne De Rosario, who starred for the national team and became one of the greatest players in the history of the North American professional game.
The too-often unsung and underappreciated museum, located in Calgary, has once again demonstrated there is much about Canadian sport which is not only good, but great, and worthy of serious admiration.
The announcement of the Class of 2022 reveals a spirit of diversity and inclusion which distinguishes it from other sporting shrines where the sole pre-requisite for entry is performance.
At this Hall of Fame, an enduring contribution to community and the reflection of values which enrich the Canadian cultural landscape count just as much as goals scored, homers hit, or games won.
WATCH l Wickenheiser leads on and off the ice:
With the entry of 10 new inductees there are now more than 700 members of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and the Class of 2022 encompasses athletes, builders, and trailblazers from eight different sports as well as a distinguished broadcaster and storyteller.
“This diverse Class of 2022 includes Olympians, Paralympians, sport builders, sporting icons, Order of Canada recipients, educators, military veterans, national team members and world champions,” said Olympic curling medallist Cheryl Bernard, president and CEO of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
“These are ordinary Canadians who have achieved extraordinary things and didn’t stop there. They are compelled to go beyond their success and give back to their communities as builders, mentors, ambassadors, and role models.”
The Builders category welcomes three new members. Tricia Smith is an Olympic rowing medallist and a transformative leader of the Canadian Olympic movement who has become one of the most influential women in international sport.
The late Edward Lennie, a respected Inuvialuit Elder, is known as the “Father of the Northern Games.” He spent much of his life preserving traditional arctic sport and was instrumental in turning the Arctic Winter Games into an international event which not only showcases intense competition but also creates awareness and cultural diversity.
Chatham baseball team broke racial barriers
Iconic sports broadcaster Brian Williams is widely recognized as “Mr. Olympics” in Canada and during his career of more than 50 years he became identified with a kaleidoscope of national, unifying events such as Canadian football’s Grey Cup, the Commonwealth Games, and as television host of 12 editions of the Olympic Games.
Two trailblazing teams have been recognized this year. The Preston Rivulettes dominated women’s hockey in the 1930’s and inspired generations of female players in Canada. The Chatham Coloured All-Stars made baseball history as the first team comprised of Black players to win an Ontario provincial championship in the 1930’s.
The team was formed in a city that was once a stop on the famed Underground Railroad delivering slaves to freedom in Canada. The all-stars left an indelible mark on the game more than a decade before American Jackie Robinson appeared and overcame discrimination in Major League Baseball to create opportunity.
Class of 2022 awarded Order of Sport
The Class of 2022 will also receive the Order of Sport and be formally inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in early October in Toronto. The Order of Sport is a tribute to Canadians who achieve greatness in sport and continue to do good work in their various communities.
“To be honest it might be even more of an honour to receive the Order of Sport, as it is more about what happened off the ice — it shows I was able to impactfully use my sporting success to the benefit of community. As it is said, ‘it is not what the world brings to you, it’s what you bring to the world,” Wickenheiser said.
“I am proud to be among this team of athletes and builders who have lived up to that creed. In fact, the very building block of sport at a grassroots level is built upon this idea.”
And there is a lot to choose from. Each year the Hall considers more than 200 nominations from around the country and every level of sport.
“The selection process is one of the most inspiring yet daunting tasks,” said Michelle Cameron Coulter, an Olympic swimming champion and chair of the selection committee. “It recognizes the highest level of sporting accomplishments of each nominee as well as their exemplary demonstration of living the values of sport and contribution to a social purpose.
“Through the lens of sport, these stories put a spotlight on important topics like personal resiliency and showcase overcoming adversity while changing the way we see the world and ourselves,” Cheryl Bernard said.
“As Canada’s only national museum of sport, our role is to amplify these stories through our four pillars; curation, education, recognition and thought leadership, to provide exciting and dynamic opportunities for all Canadians to connect with the stories and lived experiences of this incredible Class.”
The Hall of Fame is located at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary and is now in it’s 66th year of existence. It is a living testament to the values, history, and culture of sport in this country.
The Class of 2022 is proof positive that it is one of the most representative institutions in Canada — and beyond that, the certainty that sport is a vital element of the national narrative.
Scott Russell is a member of the Canada Sports Hall of Fame selection committee.