Posts in General News

WCAG 2.1 Accessibility Certification – Respect in the Workplace program

July 7th, 2021 General News

At Respect Group, making our programs accessible for learners of all abilities is key. Our team has been working incredibly hard towards accreditation to evolve our programs to be compatible with screen-reader technology. Screen readers are software programs that support learners who are blind or partially sighted to read the text that is displayed within our programs through a speech synthesizer or braille display (American Foundation for the Blind, 2020). We want to offer the best experience possible and provide an inclusive learning environment for users of all abilities.

Today, Respect Group is proud to announce that our Respect in the Workplace program has now been updated and accredited as fully compliant with the stringent WCGA 2.1 AA standard, the strictest standard set out by the World Wide Web Consortium. These updates include:

  • Updates to the program code and the overall functionality of the program to better communicate with screen readers and assistive technology, including:
    • Increasing the interactivity our program content and activities (such as the questionnaires/activities in our programs) for users utilizing screen readers or those who may use a keyboard instead of a mouse
    • Improving our back-end html text to be more clear and concise for screen readers
  • Updated headers and navigational elements throughout our program pages
  • Updated tab index and focus order of program content

These updates have currently been upgraded for this specific program: Respect in the Workplace (both generic and SCORM versions). Additionally, we are currently working towards these accessibility guidelines for the Respect in Sport for Activity Leaders, Respect in Sport for Parents, Return to Hockey, Gender Equity Lens Program, and Keeping Girls in Sport Supporting Positive Behaviour, Welcoming All Abilities, Stay in the Game, and Respect in School programs. Moving forward, all new programs will be made accessible upon release.

Respect Group will continue working on and implementing accessibility updates for all of our programs in order to provide an inclusive learning environment for users of all abilities.


American Foundation for the Blind. (2020). Screen readers. Retrieved from:

sport hockey arena

‘A Stain on Our Game’ Summary

December 21st, 2020 General News, Sheldon Kennedy

The Winnipeg Free Press recently published a series of articles by Jeff Hamilton entitled ‘A Stain on Our Game’, an investigation into convicted serial sex offender and former hockey coach Graham James. This series explores the lasting impact of his years of abuse on the Canadian hockey community and more importantly, on those who were victimized by him. Hamilton’s research shed a light on the factors that allowed the widespread abuse to occur, the lifelong impacts on the survivors of James’ abuse, and what sport organizations across Canada have done and must continue to do to prevent maltreatment and abuse from occurring in sport moving forward.

Lessons Learned:

Understanding and Defining Abuse & Maltreatment

The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport’s Universal Code of Conduct (2019) defines maltreatment as, “Volitional acts that result in harm or the potential for physical or psychological harm”. When maltreatment occurs repeatedly over time, a pattern of abuse is formed. Abuse can be psychological, physical, or sexual, but psychological abuse is the most widespread and at the root of any and all other types of abuse (Mountjoy et al., 2016). Any type of maltreatment or abuse is rooted in an imbalance of power.

As Hamilton clearly detailed, Graham James groomed young players, who often came from vulnerable or challenging family circumstances, and wielded power over them by isolating them from their peers, using the hypermasculine culture of hockey to disempower them to speak out, and using his influence to control the future of their hockey careers. Further, a win-at-all-costs mentality and the success of James’ teams meant that those who wanted to speak out feared they would not be believed or that they would face backlash. When Darren McLean, Rick Girard, and other veteran players spoke to team management about the abuse their teammates were experiencing, McLean was instead the one punished and asked to leave the team, while James was allowed to continue coaching and abusing his players (Hamilton, 2020).

Emotional Maltreatment is Equally Harmful and More Prevalent Than Other Forms

While many survivors detailed the grooming and sexual abuse they experienced, weaved throughout their and others’ accounts was a clear pattern of emotional maltreatment and abuse. Emotional maltreatment and psychological abuse is the most common type of maltreatment experienced by young athletes, and can have equally devastating impacts as other forms of abuse (Mountjoy et al., 2016). Psychological abuse, in comparison to physical or sexual abuse, is most strongly associated with athletes experiencing post-traumatic and dissociative symptoms (Mountjoy et al., 2016). Further, psychologically abusive coaching practices can both hide and lead to grooming behaviours and sexual abuse (Mountjoy et al., 2016).

Hazing is a Longstanding Problem in Hockey with Serious, Lasting Impacts

Hazing in hockey is a longstanding problem and is currently an issue before the courts, with several former Canadian Hockey League players leading a class-action lawsuit against the CHL and its three member organizations, the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL (Hamilton, 2020). At the core of this lawsuit is the claim that the organizations have perpetuated a ‘toxic environment’ in which widespread abuse and maltreatment, from both adults and peers, is widespread and accepted (Hamilton, 2020).

Hazing is defined as any harmful interaction that involves some component of psychological, sexual, and/or physical abuse (Jeckell et al., 2018). The willingness of the victim to participate has no bearing on whether an activity can be considered hazing or not; if there is any component of harm for the victim, the activity can be considered hazing (Jeckell et al., 2018). Hazing activities have the potential to lead to extremely dangerous physical and psychological outcomes, including death (Jeckell et al., 2018). Though hazing is often viewed as ‘harmless’ and ‘team-building’, it instead has the opposite effect, reinforcing existing power structures and hierarchy amongst team members, creating more division and a lack of unity (Jeckell et al., 2018).

The Effects of Trauma are Widespread and Long-Term

Many survivors of abuse can and do go on to experience positive mental health and well-being, return to sport, and resume their regular lives and activities (Mountjoy et al., 2016). However, as Hamilton (2020) clearly showed through his interviews, the short- and long-term impacts of abuse in sport can be extremely damaging to athletes, extending beyond sport and the athletes themselves to affect their families, friends, and other areas of their lives, long after the athlete has left the sport (Mountjoy et al., 2016). Athletes suffer many opportunity costs within sport, including the loss of sponsorship, poor performance, reduced chances to win at high levels, willingness to engage in doping or cheating, or leaving sport altogether (Mountjoy et al., 2016). Outside of sport, the impacts include (but are not limited to) psychosomatic illnesses, disordered eating, low self-esteem, poor body image, anxiety, depression, substance misuse, self-harm, and suicide (Mountjoy et al., 2016). Further, the risk of self-harm, suicidal thoughts or attempts, or completed suicide is increased with each type of abuse that a young person experiences (Mountjoy et al., 2016).

Parents Are Essential Stakeholders in Keeping Young Athletes Safe & Sport Organizations Accountable

Parents are their children’s first and most important advocates and are powerful stakeholders in sport culture. Parents are in an important position as bystanders to call attention to inappropriate behaviour and to step in when maltreatment occurs. Parents, as much as other adults involved in sport organizations, should also receive the education and tools to recognize and address bullying, abuse, harassment, and discrimination, or BAHD behaviours. Further, parents are an important stakeholder within sport organizations to call for culture change, moving away from a focus on developing the few elite-level athletes and towards developing all young athletes as both better players and humans (Hamilton, 2020).

Education is Crucial for Empowering Bystanders to Address Incidents of Maltreatment

Organizational and cultural change starts with leadership. The first step in the process of systemic culture change is to be aware of and understand that maltreatment and abuse occurs everywhere, including in sporting organizations, and that the consequences are serious and long-lasting (Mountjoy et al., 2016). A key building block in this process is education at all levels of sport organizations (Mountjoy et al., 2016). According to Mountjoy et al. (2016), “Prevention begins with awareness-raising about non-accidental violence through the dissemination of evidence-based education and training programs.”

Bystanders are in a crucial position to disrupt patterns of maltreatment and abuse in sport environments. Further, if they do not intervene, they become part of the problem; when bystanders who witness or are aware of the abusive behaviour do nothing, either through acceptance of the behaviour, non-intervention, denial or silence, athletes believe that the behaviour is acceptable and that they would be powerless if they chose to speak out (Mountjoy et al., 2016). Bystanders can be anyone involved in a sport organization, including athletes. In fact, educating youth involved in sports from a young age on the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behaviours can help them to recognize when maltreatment is occurring and empower them to stand up for themselves and their peers.



More information about supporting individuals who are experiencing or have experienced abuse can be found below:

Sport-Specific Resources:


Mental Health & Maltreatment Resources:

  • A full list of resources available in each province and territory for survivors of abuse can be found on the Ending Violence Association of Canada’s website
  • Free mental health support is currently available across Canada through the Wellness Together Canada website
  • For immediate crisis support, adults can text WELLNESS to 741741 and youth can text WELLNESS to 686868
  • The Canadian Centre for Victims of Crime has a helpful list of resources for individuals who have experienced maltreatment and are in need of support


Prevention Resources

The first step towards prevention is education. Learn more about our online programs here:

The Respect in Sport Parent Program provides parents with the tools to create and maintain Safe Sport environments.

The Respect in Sport Activity Leader educates youth leaders, coaches, officials and participants (14-years and up) to recognize, understand and respond to issues of bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination (BAHD).

  • Educating our youth: Stay in the Game program

The Stay in the Game program is designed to educate youth 10 -14 years old on three key themes; finding your voice, staying safe and having fun.

Tools, tips and research summaries to discover:



Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport. (2019). Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address
Maltreatment in Sport. Retrieved from

Hamilton, J. (2020, December). A stain on our game: The life and destructive legacy of Graham James. Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved from

Jeckell, A. S., Copenhaver, E. A., & Diamond, A. B. (2018). The spectrum of hazing and peer sexual abuse in sports: A current perspective. Sports health, 10(6), 558-564.

Mountjoy, M., Brackenridge, C., Arrington, M., Blauwet, C., Carska-Sheppard, A., Fasting, K., … & Starr, K. (2016). International Olympic Committee consensus statement: harassment and abuse (non-accidental violence) in sport. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 50(17), 1019-1029.


Commemorating the Skate, 22 years ago today!

May 29th, 2020 General News

We wanted to share with you a special moment in the history of Respect Group! This picture was taken 22 years ago today and marked the beginning of an important journey. A message from our co-founder Wayne McNeil as he recalled that memorable day:


“In 1998, as most of you know, Sheldon in-line skated across Canada to raise awareness of child abuse.

I was volunteering as President of his Foundation and Sheldon, as usual, was doing all the heavy lifting. This picture was from the first day of the skate (May 29, 1998) in St-John’s NFLD. The day was full of media, dipping his skate in the Atlantic, numerous special events and skating with hundreds of kids…it was exhausting.

Over dinner, the skate “logistics team” told us that there was still about 30km to go to complete the day! What the !!?? It was windy, dark and desolate but it had to be done. Sheldon laced up, I grabbed a bike and a RCMP cruiser lead the way.

There were a few “choice comments” from us both but, truth is, this journey has never been easy. To me, this marked the beginning of something very special. Had the skate not happened we would not have learned how important these issues were, the need for prevention education and Respect Group may never have come to pass!”

Wayne McNeil, Co-Founder


2020 Sport for life Canadian Summit – Stories Of Success Panel

March 10th, 2020 General News

Creating Belonging through Considering Intersectionality

Written by Andrea Carey, CCIP and Founder of INclusion INcorporated

We want to begin by acknowledging the generosity of the three panelists who shared their stories to
spark this discussion – Joy Spearchief-Morris, Cindy Ouellet, and Zoe Robinson. We also want to pay
tribute to the Re-Creation Collective who is a group of academics and practitioners who are reimagining
sport from the margins. Thank you to Respect Group Inc. for their generous support of this session and
their commitment to creating safe spaces.

Intersectionality has become a term used often in the diversity and inclusion space. It is often used in a
way to articulate the overlapping facets of diversity – which is part of the story, but there are a variety of
opportunities to appreciate the power of the term that was first coined by Black feminist Kimberlé

Intersectionality is defined as the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and
gender as they apply to a given individual or group, creating overlapping and interdependent systems of
discrimination or disadvantage. They do not exist separately from each other but are interwoven and
linked together. It is meant to articulate the overlapping systems of oppression that are faced by those
who are in marginalized positions – either by social determinants of health, geography or facets of their

I recently had the opportunity to showcase a panel of incredible women who have diverse intersections
in how they identify. A Paralympian in winter and summer sport who is a PhD candidate, a
businesswoman and gay. A Black Indigenous Master’s degree student who is a high-performance
athletics athlete aiming for a spot in this summer’s Olympics. A trans woman who is a former CEO of a
National Sport Organization and is navigating the world as a woman after 54 years living as a man.
This group of strong, successful women joined me to share their stories of success and to share what
they need to find success in new situations. The theme was to create people and participant-centered
approaches. We focused on how to support people to have positive experiences in the spaces and
places where they are.

We offered up six principles of creating success in participant/people-centered approaches and we
solicited input from the audience to share how they would live these in their organization. Here is what
the group of over 400 sport, recreation, education and health leaders came up with:
Inclusion would be lived by always having a growth mindset. We agreed that inclusion starts with the
people you are trying to serve, so there must be a focus on hiring the community you serve.
Organizations should be open to policy development and implementation.
Respect would be lived by understanding that everyone is on a unique journey and embedding in the
team culture for all to follow. Respect should be included as one of the organization’s values. Every
human being deserves to be respected.

Right to Privacy would be lived by asking permission to share (opt-in or opt-out) and provide options for
level of sharing (what are you sharing), to who and how. This should not be in the small print! There
should be options to limit information on the website for registration to keep it protected.

Private information of members shouldn’t be shared when communicating with other departments of Regions/PSO/NSO.

Dignity would be lived by meeting the participants at the place they are at so they can engage in
different ways and levels, and by being the example and treating everyone equally with respect. Anyone
should be able to do the sport they want even if they have obstacles, and a clear and transparent
selection criteria and appeal processes need to be in place.

Openness would be lived by sharing our cultural experiences often at the office, including the
community in the process for designing, implementing and evaluating sports programs by giving them a
seat at the table.

Allyship would be lived by identifying ability, compassion, and heart by advocating and providing
support. We agreed to wait until you are invited in, and not to make promises. When it comes time to
act, don’t say you’ll do it, say when you’ll do it. We should create working groups and support
spokespersons from marginalized groups.

Compassion would be lived by leading by example.

Safe would be lived by applying for funding to create a safer physical space (ex. changerooms) in
infrastructure where all participants/officials/staff feel supported, welcomed and safe. Training should
be provided to key influencers, coaches, boards, volunteers and parents open conversations should be
hosted that set the tone that respect is expected. It’s important to co-create norms and expectations
that will be commonly understood by the entire group, and to train athletes, coaches, volunteers,
administrators; developing awareness within your sectors. Through opportunities to share our stories,
and to examine the different needs of the people in the spaces and places so that we can better plan to
support the many diverse people who will be part of our programs or who deserve to be included but
haven’t been planned for properly yet.

The opportunity of this dialogue to look at how leaders of the sport, recreation, health and education
organizations in Canada can be intentional about planning for the people, the participants who are at
the core of what we do in delivering sport and physical activity experiences. We can consider how these
eight principles could come to life in your organization, and to build that into how you operate going

Respect Group Congratulates Our Co-Founder, Sheldon Kennedy, on his performance in this Season’s Battle of the Blades

November 1st, 2019 General News, Press Releases


15 years ago, ex-NHLer and internationally acclaimed child advocate, Sheldon Kennedy founded Respect Group. Since that time, he has been a source of courage, passion and inspiration for everyone on our team and thousands more across Canada in his relentless pursuit to prevent bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination.


For the past several weeks, Sheldon exchanged his hockey skates for figure skates, mastered the toe pick and competed in CBC’s Battle of the Blades with his skating partner, Kaitlyn Weaver, three-time World Ice Dance medalist.

Through their dance, they told us the story of pain, resilience, healing, hope and laughter. Together, they dazzled the viewers, impressed the judges and put their heart and soul into their performances in order to raise $100,000 for Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities; a charity dedicated to giving families in financial need and their children a chance to participate in organized sports.

Sheldon and Kaitlyn, thank you for reminding us that pushing beyond our comfort zones can bring about the change we wish to see!

resepct group, harassment prevention training, abuse prevention in sport, sport abuse, girls, sport, coaching tools, coaching resources, athlete resources, coach training, abuse prevention training

Canadian Tire Jumpstart Launched Keeping Girls in Sport in Partnership with Coaching Association of Canada, CAAWS and Respect Group

October 9th, 2018 General News, Respect in Sport

resepct group, harassment prevention training, abuse prevention in sport, sport abuse, girls, sport, coaching tools, coaching resources, athlete resources, coach training, abuse prevention training

Canadian Tire Jumpstart Launched Keeping Girls in Sport in Partnership with Coaching Association of Canada, CAAWS and Respect Group

Canadian Tire Jumpstart

Keeping Girls in Sport is an online resource that teaches coaches and youth activity leaders how to create safe and respectful environments for girls, and ultimately, help girls stay enrolled and engaged in sport and physical activity. 
In partnership with the Coaching Association of Canada  and the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport , Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities developed Keeping Girls in Sport with the expert input of Dr. Vicki Harber, professor emeritus in the faculty of physical education and recreation at the University of Alberta. 
Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities is a national charity dedicated to helping kids, who otherwise might not have the chance to play, get in the game. Studies have repeatedly shown that during adolescence, girls drop out of sport at a significantly higher rate than boys. Along with removing financial and accessibility barriers to sport and recreation, Jumpstart is committed to helping girls get, and stay active for life. 
Beyond physical fitness, there are countless benefits to participating in sport and recreation. Sport fosters valuable life skills like confidence, resilience, and teamwork, and helps girls grow up to become strong leaders in their own communities and beyond. 
Since 2016, Jumpstart has hosted several Jumpstart Games for Girls across Canada. Inspired by Jumpstart’s Chairman Emeritus, Martha Billes, these games are a fun day of play where girls can be active, have fun, feel inspired to get into the game, and remain active throughout adolescence. 

Respect Group is Officially Certified As A B Corp!

July 4th, 2018 General News

Respect Group is extremely PROUD to announce that we are officially certified as a B Corp™!

To become accredited, corporations must undertake a rigorous application process that requires detailed responses and supporting justification to 161 key questions. Criteria includes;

  • proof of improving the quality of life in their community
  • proof of positive educational outcomes from learning products offered
  • proof of a formal charitable “designed to give” process that exceeds industry norms
  • proof of providing higher quality jobs/employee benefits that exceed industry norms
  • proof of providing diversity and inclusion training financial and operational transparency with complete disclosures
  • meeting legal requirements


There are over 2512 accredited B Corps world-wide and 235 in Canada. Becoming a B Corp has been a lengthy and arduous pursuit, but one that we felt was critical for our team of over 30 professionals and our +600 valued partners/customers that include governments, universities, private enterprise, schools, sport and youth serving organizations.

We’ve been here for 14 years however, time in business (for us), is not enough.

Credibility, accountability and our values, inside and outside of our workplace are what matter most.

Remaining B Corp certified is an ongoing process but, for a moment, we wanted to pause, be proud and be grateful for each of you who have put your trust in us. This achievement represents the very best in business collaboration….Thank You!


To Learn More About B Corp Go To:



June 8th, 2018 Activity Leaders, General News, Parents, Press Releases, Respect in Sport


Voir plus bas pour la version en français


June 6, 2018

Respect Group commends the bravery of the former members of the National Ski Team, Amélie-Frédérique Gagnon, Gail Kelly, Anna Prchal and Geneviève Simard and the many other women who have come forward to disclose their stories and share their collective goal in calling for safer sport. They represent a multitude of past victims and their voices have already inspired other courageous individuals to come forward.


Respect Group also applauds the leadership of B2Ten, the Coaching Association of Canada, the Sport Dispute and Resolution Centre of Canada and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection for bringing this critical topic to the forefront and advocating for sport that is free from maltreatment. These recommendations include;


  • Mandatory online training as to rights, responsibilities, obligations and awareness for athletes, coaches, professional service providers and management;
  • Development, adoption and adherence of Policies and Procedures to prevent all forms of maltreatment;
  • An independent avenue for parties to raise concerns when issues arise;
  • The rule of two; insuring, within reason, that young athletes are not left on their own with a coach, staff or other personnel for an extended duration.




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). Offering certification programs for Community/Sport Organizations (Respect in Sport), Schools and the Workplace, Respect Group has certified over 1,000,000 Canadians.






6 juin 2018

Respect Group salue la bravoure des anciens membres de l’équipe nationale de ski, Amélie-Frédérique Gagnon, Gail Kelly, Anna Prchal et Geneviève Simard et les nombreuses autres femmes qui ont dévoilé leur histoire et partagé leur objectif commun en réclamant une sécurité accrue en sport. Elles  représentent une multitude de victimes passées, et leurs voix ont déjà inspiré d’autres personnes courageuses à se manifester.


Respect Group applaudit également le leadership de B2dix, l’Association canadienne des entraîneurs, le Centre de règlement des différends sportifs du Canada et le Centre canadien de protection de l’enfance pour avoir porté ce sujet critique au premier plan et exigé un sport exempt de  maltraitance. Ces recommandations comprennent :


  • Une formation en ligne obligatoire sur les droits, les responsabilités, les obligations et la sensibilisation des athlètes, des entraîneurs, des fournisseurs de services professionnels et de la direction;
  • L’élaboration, l’adoption et l’adhésion aux politiques et procédures visant à prévenir toutes les formes de maltraitance;
  • Un canal indépendant offert à toutes les parties pour partager les préoccupations lorsque des problèmes surviennent;
  • La règle de deux : s’assurer, dans la mesure du possible, que les jeunes athlètes ne soient pas seuls avec un entraîneur ou tout membre du personnel pendant une période prolongée.



Respect Group a été constitué le 5 avril 2004 par les cofondateurs Sheldon Kennedy et Wayne McNeil pour poursuivre une passion commune: la prévention de l’intimidation, de l’abus, du harcèlement et de la discrimination. Offrant des programmes de certification pour les organismes communautaires / sportifs (Respect et sport), les écoles et le milieu de travail, Respect Group a certifié plus de 1,000,000 de Canadiens.


Kennedy and McNeil – Commentary on Responsible Coaching Movement

March 6th, 2018 General News, Respect in Sport, Sheldon Kennedy

Kennedy and McNeil – Commentary on Responsible Coaching Movement

Monsters roam the earth, and Larry Nassar was a monster. The doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University was sent to prison for the rest of his life on Wednesday for molesting hundreds of girls, and 156 of them stood in the Michigan courtroom to give victim impact statements, and stare the monster down. Every one was a shattering example of damage, of strength, of courage. MORE

Respect in Sport Title Sponsor for the 2018 Ontario Soccer Summit

November 15th, 2017 General News, Respect in Sport

Respect in Sport Title Sponsor for the 2018 Ontario Soccer Summit


“…[Sheldon] Kennedy, former NHL player, and Co-Founder of Respect Group, sees the Ontario Soccer Summit as the perfect platform for the Respect in Sport message. “Ontario Soccer has fully embraced the Respect in Sport programs, through their work on the Activity Leader / Coach program, as well as the Parent Program pilot,” said Kennedy. “The Ontario Soccer Summit offers yet another opportunity to bring our important message of prevention to those who make decisions in sport.””

Kennedy, who was a keynote speaker at last year’s Ontario Soccer Summit, will once again be present at this year’s event to connect with the Ontario Soccer community. MORE


Copyright © Respect Group Inc. All rights reserved.