‘A STAIN ON HIS LEGACY’: BU decries Theo Fleury’s statement on vaccine passports

Just six years after honouring Theoren Fleury with an honorary degree, Brandon University (BU) is now expressing its disappointment with recent statements made by the former NHL hockey player, and calling those statements a “stain on his legacy.”

In a Twitter post posted last week Manitoba-born Fleury, a seven-time NHL all-star who played over 15 seasons with the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers, and Chicago Blackhawks, made claims that vaccine passports may be used as a way for pedophiles to track children.

The post has since been deleted, but Fleury, who is active on Twitter, currently has several anti-vaccine and anti-COVID-19 health order comments posted to his Twitter page, and BU said they are disappointed with Fleury’s current lack of “honesty” and “integrity.”

“Brandon University is steadfast in our support of academic freedom, academic inquiry, and of robust public debate around issues of consequence,” the BU statement reads. “These freedoms, however, must be balanced against responsibilities like honesty, like integrity, and like good faith. We are disappointed that honorary degree recipient Theo Fleury is increasingly, not meeting that balance.”

In 2015, Brandon University presented Fleury with an honorary doctorate, recognizing what they said were his “significant contributions to combating child sexual abuse, and for his efforts, at that time, to promote healing and recovery.”

Fleury, a victim of childhood sexual abuse by disgraced former junior hockey coach Graham James, documented the abuse in his 2009 book Playing with Fire and now speaks openly about his experiences with James and sexual abuse as a child.

“Fleury’s significant contributions to exposing the rot in junior hockey, and to supporting other survivors of child sexual abuse through recovery, continue to deserve respect. It is understandable that he may struggle to trust authority, and that he may see dark motives in other’s actions,” BU said. “His recent statements, however, go beyond reasonable distrust and are a stain on his legacy, which saddens us.”

BU is now saying that Fleury is using his “position of authority” in a way that could be harmful to others.

“We call on Fleury to recognize that he is now a person in a position of authority, and to recognize that his actions as an authority put him in a place where he can cause harm to others,” BU said.

“We hope he takes advantage of the resources at his disposal and seeks greater understanding of the science behind the pandemic, and the essential public health role of vaccines.”

When contacted by The Winnipeg Sun, Fleury declined to comment.

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun

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