Toronto, April 19, 2017 – Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame revealed the six Athletes, one Team, and two sport “Builders” who will make up the Class of 2017. Induction into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame is considered the country’s highest sporting honour and reinforces the incredibly successful athletic careers of the nominees. This year’s Class has broken down barriers, blazed new trails, and served as proud international ambassadors for Canadian values. Each of the inductees selected to join the Class of 2017 have fostered inspiration both on and off the field of play, using sport as a platform to build a better country for their fellow athletes and all Canadians.
In attendance, on behalf of the Government of Canada, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, officially welcomed the Class of 2017. “On behalf of our government, I offer my heartfelt congratulations to all the 2017 inductees to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. What an amazing group of sport leaders. Thank you for the contributions you have made to sport and for helping build strong, inclusive and active communities for all Canadians, especially our young people.”
“We are thrilled to announce the Class of 2017 – a class that features Canada’s greatest Indigenous, National, Olympic and Paralympic sport heroes who will inspire Canadians in sport and life. This group of people is a great reflection of Canada’s rich 150 year sporting history” said Mario Siciliano, President and CEO, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
The distinguished Class of 2017 inductees includes:
- Carol Huynh, two-time Olympic medallist, Wrestling
- Cindy Klassen, the most decorated Canadian Winter Olympian in history, Speed Skating
- Lanny McDonald, Stanley Cup champion, Ice Hockey
- Gaylord Powless, one of Canada’s most outstanding Lacrosse players
- Mike Weir, the only Canadian to win the Masters, Golf
- Simon Whitfield, two-time Olympic medallist, Triathlon
- Dr. Robert W. Jackson, founder of the Paralympic movement in Canada, Builder
- Dr. Charles Tator, Scientist and Neurosurgeon with profound impact on the world’s understanding of concussions, Builder
- The Edmonton Grads Basketball Team, the best basketball team the world has ever seen
The Class of 2017 will be officially inducted during the Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame 2017 Induction Celebrations on November 9, 2017 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Please visit sportshall.ca for more information.
Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame is a national charitable organization established in 1955. Each year, a class of the country’s most influential and inspiring athletes and sport Builders are inducted. They are true Canadian sports heroes with achievements and life lessons that can inspire all Canadians to be the best they can be in all aspects of life.
Carol Huynh – Athlete, Wrestling
The middle child of five siblings, Carol Huynh was born in Hazelton, British Columbia and was the first Canadian-born child after her family emigrated as refugees from Vietnam. She was introduced to wrestling by her high school coach and progressed in the sport, entering the University scene, first with Simon Fraser University. She won two World Championship medals, Bronze in 2000 and Silver in 2001, and was the World University Games Champion in 2005. Carol then moved to Alberta and started wrestling for the University of Calgary Dinos Wrestling Club in 2007.
Carol was a 2-time Junior National Champion (1999 and 2000), an 11-time Senior National Champion (2000-02, 2004-2008, and 2010-12), a two-time Pan American Games champion in 2007 and 2011, the 2010 Commonwealth Games champion, and a four-time world wrestling championship medallist (Silver in 2001, Bronze in 2000, 2005, and 2010). At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, she was not favoured to win, but made history by becoming the first Canadian woman to win Olympic Gold in the women’s 48 kg division. It was Canada’s first-ever Olympic Gold medal in women’s wrestling and it was not long before she was on the podium once again when she won a Bronze medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Carol retired from competitive wrestling after the 2012 Olympic Games, but has since given back to her sport and her community in multiple ways in Canada and around the world. When wrestling was taken out of the Olympic programme after the 2012 Olympic Games, Carol was chosen by fellow world-class wrestlers to advocate on their behalf at the 125th International Olympic Committee Session in Buenos Aires in 2013 to have wrestling readmitted which she did successfully. She is an assistant coach at the Dinos Wrestling Club at the University of Calgary and Next Generation coach at the Canadian Sport Institute in Calgary.
In early 2015, she was appointed as a United World Wrestling Super 8 Ambassador for the global campaign focusing on the development of women in wrestling and she is currently the President of the United World Wrestling Athletes Commission. Carol has exhibited passion, class, and extraordinary commitment to sport and her community throughout her career as an athlete, coach, and sports advocate.
Cindy Klassen – Athlete, Speed Skating
Cindy Klassen began her skating journey when, at age two, her father gave her a homemade hockey stick and a pair of skates. Until Cindy finished school, she played every sport she could possibly fit into her schedule. By the age of 23, Cindy won her first Olympic medal, a Bronze in the 3000m, at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. In 2002-2003, she had one of the best seasons by a Canadian athlete on the World Cup speed skating circuit with 13 Gold, three Silver, and five Bronze medals.
In 2003, Cindy finished second overall at the World Sprint Championships and, a month later, she became the first Canadian in 27 years to win the overall title at the World Allround Speed Skating Championships. It was the first time in 15 years that a skater had won overall medals at both events in the same year. Cindy topped off an incredible year by winning the 1500m World Cup Title. In October 2003, Cindy fell in training and damaged 12 tendons in her forearm. Two months later, she was training again and, at the World Single Distance Championship in March 2004, she won Silver in the 1500m and Bronze in the 1000m. In 2005, Cindy was on top of the podium once again. For the second time she won the 1500m World Cup Title and became a two-time Gold medallist at the World Championships winning both the 1500m and 3000m events.
At the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Cindy became the first ever Canadian Olympian to win five medals in one Olympic Games; Gold in the 1500m, Silver in the 1000m, Silver in the Team Pursuit, and Bronze in the 5000m and 3000m, making her the most decorated Canadian Winter Olympian in history, with a total of six medals. Cindy capped off her 2006 season by winning the overall title at the World Allround Championships with Gold in all four distances and was also named World Cup Champion for the 3000m event.
In her 15 years of competitive speed skating, Cindy amassed a total of 115 international medals: 46 Gold, 41 Silver, and 28 Bronze. She was World Champion nine times and broke seven international records, including six world records, and is still the world record holder in the 3000m. Cindy has given back to her community working with numerous charities and has also been involved in promoting women’s sports in other countries. She has worked tirelessly to provide girls and women with much-needed opportunities to play sports, becoming a role model on and off the ice, in Canada, and around the world.
Lanny McDonald – Athlete, Ice Hockey
Lanny McDonald’s hero while growing up was his father who taught him the value of hard work on the family farm in Craigmyle, Alberta. He was the youngest of four children and was raised with a profound sense of family and community. Lanny learned to skate at the age of five and after years of minor hockey, he left home at age 16 to pursue his hockey dream. He was soon high on the list of NHL scouts who always pointed to three qualities when they described him; a great shot, a good skater, and tough as nails.
Lanny was the Toronto Maple Leaf’s first choice, 4th overall, in the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft and played almost seven seasons for the team. His great play earned him an invitation to Team Canada for the 1976 Canada Cup. He played in five games and assisted on the series-winning overtime goal against Czechoslovakia. Lanny was a tough, clean player, earning him a spot on the NHL’s Second All-Star team in 1977. He also played in the 1978 All-Star Game and was a member of the NHL group that played the Soviet National Team in the Challenge Cup series in 1979 to replace that year’s All-Star Game.
Lanny was once again chosen to play for Canada at the 1981 World Hockey Championships and happily returned home to Alberta when he was traded to the Calgary Flames by the Colorado Rockies that same year, after playing two seasons. He gave the Flames the best hockey of his career and recorded a career-high 66 goals in the regular season and 98 points in the 1982-83 season. He was selected for the second time to the NHL Second All-Star Team in 1983 and was awarded the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for his perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. The 1988-89 season was a banner year for Lanny when he won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for exemplifying leadership qualities on and off the ice and making a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in the community; scored his 1,000th point on March 7, 1989; scored his 500th goal on March 21, 1989; and signed off a 16-year career by scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal against the Montreal Canadiens to help the Flames win their first and only Stanley Cup in 1989.
Lanny was the first player in Flames franchise history to have his jersey number retired on March 17, 1990 and served as Vice-President with the Flames organization following his retirement. Lanny was named General Manager of Team Canada in the 2001 and 2002 World Championship and was the Director of Player Personnel when Canada won the Gold medal at the 2004 World Championship.
Lanny is always first in line when someone needs help, and the Special Olympics movement has been his special interest since 1974. His involvement with Special Olympics and his work with the Alberta Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals earned him the first ever Ralph T. Scurfield Humanitarian Award from the Flames for his charitable efforts. Beyond his hockey career, Lanny has shown loyalty and commitment for numerous causes, and for that reason, he is a true Canadian hero.
Gaylord Powless – Athlete, Lacrosse
Gaylord Powless was a Mohawk lacrosse player from the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ontario, where the Powless family has lived for over 200 years. Gaylord received his first lacrosse stick at age two and by age 17, he won the Tom Longboat Award as the best Indigenous athlete in Canada playing the “Creator’s Game”, and carrying on an important family and cultural tradition.
In 1964, Gaylord was recruited by the Oshawa Green Gaels junior lacrosse team, which he led to four consecutive Minto Cups from 1964 to 1967 and was chosen as the most valuable player in the series in 1964 and 1967. He turned professional in 1968 and, in 1969, played for the Rochester Chiefs, winning the Can-Am Lacrosse League title. Gaylord went on to a successful career in professional and senior amateur lacrosse with teams in Detroit, Syracuse, New York, Montreal, Brantford, Port Coquitlam, and Brampton as well as with the Six Nations team.
Gaylord was also a star player for the Detroit Olympics of the National Lacrosse Association. He scored 63 goals in the 1968 season, twice as many as his nearest competition. He knew where everyone was at all times on the field of play, was an unselfish player, and an outstanding playmaker. Gaylord’s career was cut short by injuries and in 1977, he retired at the age of 30. Throughout his career and beyond, Gaylord marketed the sport, playing in various arenas around North America in an effort to promote the game.
As an Indigenous person, Gaylord had to withstand tremendous racism from coaches, players, fans, and sports writers. His reaction was to recognize that he was a target for bullying and abuse and to overcome it by being the best player, and the highest scoring athlete he could be.
Gaylord gave back to his community by coaching lacrosse, hockey, and figure skating teams. He also supported activities for elders, assisted others in promoting lacrosse, played in celebrity games, and remained committed to the promotion of sport in the Six Nations community for more than twenty years. Lacrosse is considered North America’s first team sport and in 1994, the Government of Canada officially named lacrosse Canada’s national summer sport.
Sadly, Gaylord died on July 28, 2001, but his influence as a role model and inspiration to generations of Indigenous youth carries on. Through the game of lacrosse, Gaylord helped create bridges, friendships, and goodwill between Indigenous and non-Indigenous players and cultures in Canada.
Mike Weir – Athlete, Golf
Mike Weir, one of Canada’s best golfers, hailing from Sarnia, Ontario was the first Canadian to ever win the prestigious Masters Tournament. Like many young Canadians, Mike first dreamed of playing professional hockey, but his path changed when he held his first golf club. Golf intrigued Mike because of how challenging the game was and how much hard work it would take to succeed. His determination became clear as a star on the Brigham Young University golf team. This same determination would also help him achieve success in the early years of his professional career on the Canadian Tour where he won Rookie of the Year Honours in 1993 and led the Order of Merit in 1997, before reaching the PGA Tour in 1998.
Mike won his first PGA Tour title in 1999, the first Canadian to win on native soil since 1954. Mike would go on to win seven more PGA titles including his 2003 Masters victory. Mike has beaten the odds his entire career, with doubters saying he was too small or not powerful enough. He silenced the critics in 2003 when he walked away with the green jacket and became a Canadian hero in the process.
In 2000, Mike became the first Canadian to play in the President’s Cup where he led the international team with a 3-2-0 record. He was appointed to the President’s Cup team in 2003, 2005, and 2007 where he won the final match play round on Canadian soil. Mike made his fifth consecutive President’s Cup appearance in 2009.
Mike has distinguished himself not only with his success, but with his quiet, focused, and humble approach, whether winning or losing. Mike demonstrates dignity and grace at all times and has become a role model for youth in Canada contributing to the strength of junior golf in Canada.
Mike has used his success as a professional golfer as a platform for helping families in need with the creation of the Mike Weir Foundation in 2004 to support children in physical, emotional, and financial need. Mike launched a national fundraising program, called the Mike Weir Miracle Golf Drive for Kids, supporting Children’s Miracle Network. On a national level, Mike was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 2007 for his contributions to the country through his charitable work.
Simon Whitfield – Athlete, Triathlon
A four-time Olympian, twelve-time World Champion, and ten-time National Champion, Simon Whitfield is one of Canada’s most accomplished and decorated athletes. Simon entered his first triathlon at the age of 12 at Sharbot Lake, Ontario, and predicted his own destiny when he told his hometown newspaper that his goal was to win an Olympic Gold medal in triathlon.
In 1999, Simon earned a Bronze medal at the Pan American Games. He later became one of only a few athletes in the world to have competed in four Olympic triathlons since the sport made its Olympic Games debut at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney where Simon would go on to achieve his lifelong dream and win the Gold medal. He followed up with a Gold Medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and went on to inspire the nation at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing where he won the Silver medal.
Simon’s accomplishments as a triathlete and as an ambassador to the sport have left an enormous impact on the triathlon community. Simon takes his role as triathlon’s ambassador to Canada and to the world very seriously. He has continued to inspire and challenge all those around him to work hard, drive toward excellence, and most importantly, live an active and healthy lifestyle.
Simon supports many charities and loves being able to mentor youth to find their passion. Simon has committed his time to numerous organizations that have a mission to inspire athletes to follow their dreams or live healthy, active lives. Simon’s stellar athletic abilities have inspired young people around the globe. He still spends his time visiting schools to encourage young people to not be afraid of failing and to follow their dreams. Simon’s message is that the simple pursuit of excellence is its own reward and that although not everyone can be an Olympian, performing to the best of one’s ability is the reward, not the outcome.
Dr. Robert W. Jackson – Builder, Paralympic Games
The Canadian Paralympic movement’s roots began in Japan when Dr. Robert W. Jackson attended the 1964 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Canada was not yet competing at the Paralympic Games, but Dr. Jackson, an Orthopaedic Surgeon who was working with the Canadian Olympic Team, experienced the competition firsthand. He had already become aware and was interested in sports for people with a disability after witnessing the 10th Annual Stoke Mandeville Games in England in 1961.
In addition to his interest in the Paralympic Games, in 1965, Dr. Jackson began a 40-year mission to teach doctors in Canada and abroad the arthroscopic procedure to perform surgeries on knees and other joints without having to open up the joint fully. This technique significantly reduced the healing time for the patient, becoming one of the most important advances in orthopaedic surgery in this century, radically changing the treatment of sport injuries around the world.
In 1967, Dr. Jackson helped to create the Canadian Wheelchair Sport Association in order to send a team to the Paralympic Games and became the founding President, a role he held from 1967 to 1972. One year later, Canada was participating in the 1968 Paralympic Games in Tel Aviv. In 1972, he took on the responsibility for organizing the 1976 Olympiad for the Physically Disabled which was held in Toronto, parallel to the Olympic Games in Montreal, including paraplegic, amputee, and blind athletes from around the world. As a result of this competition and Dr. Jackson’s leadership, the Canadian Federation of Sport Organizations for the Disabled was created, the pre-cursor to the Canadian Paralympic Committee.
Dr. Jackson, seen by many as the founder of the Canadian Paralympic movement, also saw the broader impact of parasport. He argued that if someone saw a person with a spinal cord injury bench press 400 pounds, then surely they could understand that the same person could also work a 40-hour week and be a contributing member of society. Dr. Jackson made it possible for Canada to be a leader in the Paralympic movement, and for persons with disabilities to rise up on the world’s athletic stage and inspire others to follow in their path. Paralympians inspire all Canadians, with and without a disability, to become involved in sports and reach their individual potential. Dr. Jackson passed away on January 6, 2010 at age 78 having lived a full, giving, and selfless life.
Dr. Charles Tator – Builder, Scientist & Neurosurgeon
An eminent scientist, neurosurgeon, professor, and administrator since the early 1970s, Dr. Charles Tator has had a profound impact on spinal cord injury research, prevention, and treatment transforming the world’s understanding of concussions.
Dr. Tator dedicated himself to sport safety in the 1970s while working as a neurosurgeon after five hockey players in a 13-month stretch became quadriplegics because of broken necks suffered after hits from behind. He has since become a mentor to the next generation of leading surgical scientists and his work has been transformational as he has spoken out fearlessly about the importance of players, coaches, policy-makers, physicians, journalists, and parents understanding the impact of sport-based concussions.
Dr. Tator’s advocacy efforts resulted in the creation of new legislation and guidelines to prevent spinal cord injury in hockey and, in 1992, he helped found an organization called Parachute Canada, a national injury prevention agency that educates young people, medical personnel, teachers, coaches, and parents across the country about sport safety.
Dr. Tator has contributed to over 700 publications and published recommendations for policy development regarding sport-related concussion prevention and management in Canada. He has contributed his time and expertise to over 100 Board and Advisory Committees and volunteers by travelling the country and speaking around the world to help ensure that athletes of all ages and skill levels are able to minimize the risk of serious injury and enjoy sports to the fullest. He has been a powerful and courageous change agent for Canadian sports and recreation and is committed to making sport in Canada safer for everyone.
The Edmonton Grads – Athletes – Team, Basketball
The Commercial Graduates Basketball Club was the formal name of the Edmonton Grads team, coached by Percy Page, based at McDougall Commercial High School in Edmonton. Beginning as a women’s high-school team, the Grads ruled women’s basketball from 1915 to 1940, playing 522 official games in Canada, the United States, and in Europe, winning 502 and only losing 20 for an average of 96.2%, and winning 49 out of a possible 51 domestic titles. They never lost a series in the Underwood International Championships, winning 23 times.
In 1924, the Fédération Sportive Feminine Internationale declared the Grads World Champions and they represented Canada at four consecutive Olympic Games from 1924 to 1936. They won all 27 of their Olympic matches, but because women’s basketball was not yet an official event, there were no medals awarded. The inclusion of basketball in the Olympic Games occurred for men in 1936, but not for women until forty years later in 1976.
The Grads won three North American Championship series in 1934, 1935, and 1936, had two consecutive winning streaks of 147 and 78 games respectively, and were named World Champions from 1937 to 1940. At the time of their retirement, the Grads held 108 titles at local, provincial, western, national, international, and world levels, becoming a sporting dynasty whose winning record remains unparalleled by any team in any sport, male or female. Truly champions, the Grad’s success can be attributed to natural ability, strong leadership, dedication, fair play, and determination.
During the Grads’ 25-year career, there were only 38 players listed in the official records. The Grads’ sporting success was accompanied by the respect they earned in Canada and abroad and consequently silenced the critics who claimed that strenuous activity could be harmful to women. Perhaps the finest compliment came from the inventor of basketball, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Honoured Member, Dr. James Naismith, who called them “the finest basketball team that ever stepped out on a floor.”