NHL player Sheldon Kennedy brings Swift Current to Willamette, highlights impact of sexual abuse on survivors

by Patrick Riedling,

  •  Swift Current - Sheldon Kennedy
    NHL Star Sheldon Kennedy combats sexual abuse in this thought-provoking documentary.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention month. Child sexual abuse awareness is at the forefront of the thought-provoking and powerful documentary film Swift Current, being screened at Willamette University’s Smullin Film Studies Theater in Ford Hall on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The screening will be followed by a discussion with one of the world’s leading child abuse victim advocates and the subject of the documentary, former NHL hockey player Sheldon Kennedy.  

Directed by Joshua Rofé, Swift Current tells the narrative of Kennedy and his story of sexual abuse as a teenager at the hands of his former junior league hockey coach, Graham James, a convicted sex offender whose behavior was ignored through two Western League coaching stints and one in Europe.

"The goal of this film is to offer hope and a solution to an issue that is affecting our most vulnerable population," said Sheldon Kennedy. "Through this film, and through the work of Child Advocacy Centers across North America, it is my hope that people will be able to understand the impact of child abuse and work together to support those who have been traumatized by abuse."

Kennedy has gone on to become one of the world's leading advocates for victims of child abuse through the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre and was recognized as a member of the Order of Canada for his tireless work. During the documentary, Kennedy tells his story and the struggles he endured from the trauma of his abuse. The film parallels Kennedy's painful story with two young people whose experiences as sex abuse survivors led them to connect with Kennedy and his message. Swift Current also follows the early recovery of the two students, Mikki and Graham, ultimately providing a never before seen look at the long-lasting effects of trauma caused by sexual abuse.

“Willamette University College of Law has a longstanding commitment to providing support to abuse victims and their families through our research and advocacy in the Child and Family Advocacy Clinic and the Human Rights and Immigration Clinic,” says Warren Binford, associate professor of law and director of Willamette’s Clinical Law Program. “Sheldon has long been a hero and inspiration to many. His story and the stories of other survivors are filled with strength, resilience, and hope. They remind us not only that we must continue to work to end sexual abuse, we also must work to support victims so that they can enjoy full recovery and reintegration into their communities—just as they are promised under law—so that they can fulfill their potential and society can benefit from their gifts and talents."

Swift Current was directed, produced and co-written by Joshua Rofé (Lost for Life), produced by three-time Academy Award-winner Mark Jonathan Harris and Geralyn Dreyfous (Born Into Brothels, The Invisible War, The Square), Regina Scully (The Invisible War), and executive produced by acclaimed filmmaker James Gray (The Immigrant, The Yards), documentarian Alexandra Dickson Gray (Close to Home), Tom Mauro, and Debra Mauro.

Watch the film trailer on YouTube.

CLE Credit

The Oregon State Bar has approved this event for one and three-quarters (1.75) hours of general credit.

Event Co-Sponsors

About the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre

The Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre demonstrates every day what’s possible when professionals, corporate champions, community members and government work together to support children, youth and families impacted by child physical and sexual abuse, and to put an end to abuse. This groundbreaking not-for-profit center in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, brings together more than 95 professionals from six partner organizations to wrap services around children, youth and families. It blends investigation, treatment, prevention, education and research with expertise to help people through an exceptionally difficult time — providing integrated services at one place so healing can begin and lives can move forward.

About Willamette University College of Law

Opened in 1883, Willamette University College of Law is the first law school in the Pacific Northwest. The college has a long tradition at the forefront of legal education and is committed to the advancement of knowledge through excellent teaching, scholarship, mentoring and experience. Leading faculty, thriving externship and clinical law programs, ample practical skills courses, and a proactive career placement office prepare Willamette law students for today's legal job market. According to statistics compiled by the American Bar Association, Willamette ranks first in the Pacific Northwest for job placement for full-time, long-term, JD-preferred/JD-required jobs for the class of 2014 and first in Oregon for the classes of 2012, 2013 and 2014. Located across the street from the state capitol complex and the Oregon Supreme Court in downtown Salem, the college specializes in law and government, law and business, and dispute resolution.