Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Gare also visited Keen's blog. They may fistfight.


One thing I do want to clarify: I can't imagine what Sheldon Kennedy had to endure all those years ago. The fact that more than 20 years later it still seems to haunt him speaks of the horror and trauma he went through. When I say that "the sum of Bronco hockey is more than Graham James" I'm not trying to discount what Sheldon experienced and the bravery he showed us all in coming forward and going public.

I think we as a community have moved on, yet we are still linked to this unfortunate and dispicable incident. It was something horrible that happened. I honestly don't believe that many people knew of it and turned a blind eye to the abuse. I used to be the stick boy and spent alot time in the space of Graham James. I never had any clue and was never given any reason to believe he was the predator he was. Sure we all heard the rumours about Graham being a homosexual, but I don't think anyone could have fathomed what was really happening.

It was a dark time, but to still link Swift Current and people who live here to this is like still linking Toronto to SARS. It happened, we payed our respects, we remember, but it is not our identity. Just my opinion and maybe I'm wrong, but I think that's why we're so ticked about this Gare Joyce article and how we're still so linked with the abuse as a community.



Gare Joyce said...

Yup, Toronto had SARS, evidently an airborne virus. And Swift has denial, which, for all I know, might be something in the water.

Look, the point of the story is that the team--not Dean, not the kids, not the community--hasn't done enough to honour the for Broncos over the years. Do you have a good explanation why the team isn't even mentioned at the town museum--not even the championship team? Not that hard--how do you put up a team picture to honour the players when James is in the photo? I feel sorry for many people in this story, because tragedy and triumph both pull up memories of James's evidently unspeakable evil but also of a broader,unspoken sense of guilt. And I can't help but wonder if the latter is unspoken simply as a matter of liability than unfiltered emotion. (Has there been anything more mealy-mouthed than the statement after the civil statement with the other Bronco--that is, not Kennedy?)

Switzer said...

Swift is not in denial.

I'm not trying to be the Swift Current spokesperson here. I'm drawing from my own experiences. As a stick boy/trainer's assistant I grew up very close to Bronco hockey, and yes, Graham James was a big part of my up-bringing. I idolized him. I attended practices, road games, training camp and games. I spent alot of time in his space.

I never had a clue. In retrospect there is still nothing to indicate the type of person he would be revealed to be. I believe Swift Current remains tight lipped and "stoic" because we were duped. We as a community loved Graham, his sense of humour and the way he represented our city on and off the ice. I still remember awards banquets where he had the crowd in stitches as Sheldon Kennedy heckled him from the crowd.

And Sheldon...

My first encounter with Sheldon involved him taking a big red horn I used to take to the rink, and blowing it in the dressing room then starting the familiar "Joe" chant with is teammates. Sheldon was a vibrant, charming young man, full of life and always with a quick one liner. A charasmatic kid people were drawn to. Certainly not the guy who sat in the corner going through mental anguish and torment. His drinking problems were known, but we all attributed it to his rockstar status in Swift Current. It was a given that Sheldon would be voted 'Fans Most Popular Player' every year.

Sheldon would return to Swift Current every year, even after his junior career was over to help Graham with training camp. The two of them on the surface had a relationship I would almost compare to siblings. Graham, the older/wiser brother and Sheldon the younger crazy sibling always ribbing the elder. They got along very well. To the best of my knowledge, no one had a clue.

When Sheldon came forward it was a shock. My friends and I used to take signs to the rink that said "Graham James 4 Prime Minister". There was a night when the organization handed out Graham James masks! When the truth about Graham was revealed it was like finding out someone was cheating on you. Someone we invested so much emotion in had lied to us. He fooled us all. Swift Current had a love affair with Graham and he cheated us. Like being cheated; it hurt, but then you get over it and move on and your friends don't constantly remind you of it.

Is it denial Gare? No. We know what happened and never pretend it didn't. We were fooled. I don't think many people feel guilty. Cheated maybe, but not guilty.

Yes the team isn't mentioned in our museum. Sad but true. While visting the museum, Did you notice that literally EVERY business in downtown Swift Current has a Bronco Push/Pull sticker on the door? Of course you didn't, that would be a POSITIVE!

Don't say your article was a cristicism about the team/board and not the fans or community. Did you write: "Now the display just blends into the background. Even this night, the 20th anniversary of the crash, fans hustle right by it to their seats. The boosters, the Hockey Hounds, stake out their spots in the standing-room area. Nobody stops to look at the four faces.


"If such a tragedy had occurred anywhere else, the fans would be lined up at the memorial display. They'd be paying their respects. But in Swift Current it's a different story. It seems like they're trying to keep their distance."

Maybe you din't intend that to be a shot at Swift Current's fans, but can you see how we'd take it that way?

This is all my opinion and maybe I'm wrong. I can admit that maybe I don't know what I'm talking about...but I don't think you do either.

Anonymous said...

"Look, the point of the story is that the team--not Dean, not the kids, not the community--hasn't done enough to honour the for Broncos over the years."

You always seem to dodge the question "what does this have to do with Graham James?" It was suppose to be a story on the bus crash and the four boys who lost their lives. Did you read your own story?