An Olympic gold medal alone is generally not enough to appoint someone to the Order of Canada.
Between his bravery of coming out gay in 1998, his role as a mentor and leader within the Canadian Olympic community, and his commitment to the LGBTQ community, the Special Olympics and people suffering from their own mental health, the effects of Tewksbury goes well beyond the pool in which he won gold in 1992.
On Friday, Tewskbury was named a Companion of the Order of Canada. This is the highest level of the order and there is a limit of only 165 living companions at a time.
Anastasia Bucsis, a former Olympic speed skater who came out gay in 2013, can’t imagine anyone who deserves more.
« I mean, it sounds so clichéd and I don’t want to say ‘pioneer’, but his strength and courage to come out in the late ’90s saved lives, » said Bucsis. “Because of his actions and his leadership, our sports landscape looks the way it is now.
« It cannot be emphasized enough how strong he is as a leader. Not just for LGBTQ athletes, but for the entire Olympic team. For anyone who has dreams, Mark has a special way of being incredibly strong and effective with his words and demeanor, but also his ability to be vulnerable, to humanize problems and to stand there. ”
As an athlete, Tewksbury is arguably the greatest Canadian swimmer of all time. He won a silver medal in the 4 × 100-meter medley relay at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 and won the gold medal in the 100-meter back at the Barcelona Olympics four years later.
But exactly what he did with the platform the sport provided him with over the years that followed made Tewksbury such a worthy choice to be a mate of the Order of Canada.
The Calgarian has served on the board and as chairman for the Special Olympics. He was a co-founder of Olympic Advocates Together Honorably, which was dedicated to the use of the Olympic spirit. He was a spokesperson for the Children’s Miracle Network and the AIDS Walk Canada.
And since he came out gay in 1998, he has proudly stood up for LGBTQ people while supporting young athletes like Bucsis who decide whether they want to come out publicly.
« It totally humiliates me, » said Tewksbury. “My quote is: ‘For athletic excellence and leadership and for the promotion of justice, inclusion and human rights on and off the field. ‘
« I’m absolutely not the only one, but I was early. I started my activism back in the 90s and it was very difficult to speak openly about being gay in the world, in general, but certainly in sports. I think these tough decisions from that time were just amazing over time and I am so grateful that I did what I used to do. ”
Tewksbury’s work is far from over. He is hosting a show called In Your Corner on Egale. ca, which is focused on engaging in sport and connecting LGBTQI2S communities and continues to lead the company he co-founded, The Great Traits.
« I think (my activism is) wide-ranging activism, but it started with my own empathy and understanding of what it felt like to be different as a closed-back gay person, » Tewksbury said.
To Bucsis, it sounded like the most obvious thing in the world to see Tewksbury called to the Order of Canada.
« I once asked him: » Do you never tire of being a lawyer? « and he said, » Never. It’s just in my blood, I can’t stand injustice, « and that only speaks for his integrity, it speaks for his character, » said Bucsis. « He’s always on the right side and drives conversations. I was very lucky to be an LGBTQ athlete who had him as a mentor and friend. He’s really changed my life for the better, so I still struggle to find the words to describe.
« He’s really like a pillar of our Canadian team at the moment, but also everything that is good in sport. I can’t think of any other name that deserves more. ”
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Order of Canada, Mark Tewksbury
World News – CA – Tewksbury has appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada
Associated Title :
– Tewksbury Appointed Companion of the Order of Canada
– Olympic Champion, humanitarian Mark Tewksbury named Companion of the Order of Canada
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