Former NHL star Fleury in Surrey for conference on child abuse

At Surrey City Hall, two-day event hosted by Sophie’s Place Child and Youth Advocacy Centre

Retired NHL star Theo Fleury was in Surrey this week for a provincial conference on child abuse.

The event, hosted by Sophie’s Place Child and Youth Advocacy Centre, focused on “trauma and resiliency for both children and youth that have been abused and the health and well being of their service providers.”

Conference delegates gathered at Surrey City Hall on Tuesday and Wednesday (Feb. 19-20) to hear speakers including Fleury and Amanda Lindhout, who in 2008 was among people kidnapped by Islamist insurgents in Somalia.

Fleury, who won a Stanley Cup with Calgary Flames and also Olympic gold with Team Canada, shared his personal story of trauma, addiction and recovery with conference attendees on Tuesday morning.

Fleury’s talk was called “very inspirational, honest and thought-provoking” by conference delegate Jen Robbins.

“This is really the epitome of bravery,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “I loved it when Theo said he was always taught to man up and never, ever cry… and now he cries at America’s Got Talent. (ME TOO!)”

Later Tuesday, Fleury visited Revolution Recovery, a facility in Surrey for men struggling with addiction.

Ten years ago, Fleury released Playing With Fire, a book that revealed how he had been sexually and mentally abused by his junior hockey coach, Graham James.

The conference at city hall featured a number of guest speakers, including a forensic psychologist, trauma and recovery specialists, and a retired police captain and graduate of the FBI National Academy.

“Navigating the justice system can be a significant challenge, especially for vulnerable victims of abuse such as children,” Gerard Bremault, CEO for the Centre for Child Development, said in a release prior to the conference. “I commend the tireless work our team does at Sophie’s Place to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for children and to help lessen the potential for trauma or re-victimization of young children and their families.”

In planning the conference, collaborators with Sophie’s Place include Surrey RCMP (Special Victims Unit), Ministry of Children and Family Development, Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, City of Surrey and The Centre for Child Development.

Event sponsors include the Department of Justice Canada, The Cabin Group and Telus.

Established in 2012, Sophie’s Place is considered B.C.’s first co-housed fully operational Child and Youth Advocacy Centre. The facility, located in Surrey at 9460 140th St., operates under the umbrella of The Centre for Child Development.

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