Victor Walk: Theo Fleury calls for healing after 'life-changing' trek
Jonathan Zettel, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Friday, May 24, 2013 11:07AM EDT
After a 10-day walk from Toronto to Ottawa, former NHLer Theo Fleury says he has talked with the government about the need for tougher laws against child sex abuse, but he doubts much will change.
“Do I think the laws are going to change? Probably not,” Fleury told CanadaAM Friday morning. “If the laws aren’t going to change, let’s focus on healing people.”
Bill C-37 -- entitled Increasing Offenders’ Accountability for Victims Act -- is currently before Parliament, but Fleury calls it a “smoke and mirrors bill.”
The act would double the monetary penalty convicted criminals must pay to their victims, intended to fund counselling and other healing services. It is currently awaiting third reading in the Senate.
“I find with politicians they like to talk, talk, talk, but they don’t ever walk the walk,” said Fleury, who was sexually abused by disgraced hockey coach Graham James in the 1980s.
The former NHL star’s self-described “Victor Walk” aimed to raise awareness and shed the shame surrounding victims of child sex abuse.
“The whole entire trip was really a kind of life-changing experience. You know, you walk 400 miles and you get people stopping you on the side of the road … they’d tell us their stories,” Fleury said.
Fleury remembers a man raking stones off his lawn who turned to him and said: “Me too, thanks for doing this.”
The Victor Walk is aptly named because Fleury rejects the term “victim,” and instead says abuse sufferers are victors for overcoming years of abuse. According to Fleury, there are 8 million child sex abuse survivors in Canada.
In the past, Fleury has said he wants tougher sentences for convicted pedophiles and has suggested a minimum of 15 years for each count of abuse, served concurrently.
He also wants those who fail to report incidents of sexual abuse to be held legally accountable and a national registry of convicted pedophiles’ home and work addresses.
Money raised from this year’s walk will be going to three charities, including the national charitable organization Little Warriors, Sexual Assault Centre for Quinte & District and the Siksika Nation.
Fleury says he will take some time to digest everything that has happened before starting to plan next year’s Victor Walk.
Donations can be made at victorwalk.com.