Klassen’s Walk of Fame star to hang at Gateway

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EAST KILDONAN

If you have a dream, don’t be afraid to chase it. That’s the message Cindy Klassen wants to pass on to the next generation.

On July 11, Canada’s Walk of Fame honoured six-time Olympic medallist and four-time world speedskating champion Cindy Klassen with a hometown ceremony commemorating her 2019 induction into the Walk of Fame. The event took place before dozens of family, friends, and well-wishers — including mentor and fellow Olympic speed skater Susan Auch, Mayor Brian Bowman, and singer Steve Bell — in the Concert Room at the Hotel Fort Garry.

Cindy Klassen, joined on stage by her daughter Phoebe, received a hometown star from Canada’s Walk of Fame on July 11. The star will be installed at Gateway Recreation Centre (1717 Gateway Rd.) where Klassen played youth hockey growing up.

“Coming home for an event like this really reminds me how privileged I am,” Klassen, who grew up in East Kildonan, said. “I’m so proud that this is where I’m from. This is a city and province of such exceptional people, and I know a big part of that lies in the sense of community and the encouragement and support that anyone who has spent a little time here would feel.”

Klassen, who won five medals at the 2006 winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, including a gold medal in the 1,500 metre race, was joined on stage by her two-and-a-half year old daughter Phoebe as her hometown star was unveiled. The plaque will be installed at Gateway Recreation Centre (1717 Gateway Rd.), where Klassen, now a police officer in Calgary, Alta., played youth hockey.

“I spent so much time there growing up,” Klassen recalled. “I played hockey there, I remember going there to play pick-up hockey, too. I felt it would be a neat place where hopefully young kids will see it. I’m grateful to have had that recreation centre nearby growing up, to be able to play there.”

Klassen credited her coaches at all levels for creating a supporting her over the years.

“When I started speedskating, I was 18 years old,” she said. “My coaches could have been laughing at me, but they really made me feel welcome and I was grateful for that. They made me feel like part of the family. That’s really important for kids, to feel welcome and included. That’s a huge thing, and not just in sports.”

“ That’s really important for kids, to feel welcome and included. That’s a huge thing, and not just in sports.

Klassen said she hopes the hometown star will inspire others, particularly the next generation, to chase their dreams.

“I’m a regular prairie girl from Winnipeg who started off with an Olympic dream,” she said. “If they dream big and believe in themselves, whether it’s sports or music or education or wherever their passions may lie, there’s no telling where their dreams may take them.”

Along with the stars, Canada’s Walk of Fame donated $10,000 to charity in Klassen’s name. Klassen chose to have $5,000 donated to both the Mennonite Central Committee (Manitoba) and the Airdrie Pregnancy Care Centre.

Cindy Klassen received a hometown star from Canada’s Walk of Fame on July 11. The star will be installed at Gateway Recreation Centre (1717 Gateway Rd.) where Klassen played youth hockey growing up before turning her attention to speed skating at the age of 18.
Sheldon Birnie

Sheldon Birnie
Community Journalist

Sheldon Birnie is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at sheldon.birnie@canstarnews.com Call him at 204-697-7112

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