The values of “determination, courage and spirit” in the SAIT Trojans’ motto couldn’t have been better demonstrated than they were recently by Chanelle Petrie.
Petrie, 18, was sexually exploited by her minor hockey coach, Heidi Ferber, back in 2010 and 2011, in Kamloops, B.C.
Because she was under 18 when the offenses were committed, Petrie’s name was banned from publication under law.
But recently she asked her lawyers to fight to have the publication ban lifted, so she could tell her story.
“I [did it with the intention of] encouraging people to come forward. It’s an honour for me to represent people who [feel] they can’t come out,” Petrie said, as she took in some hockey action at the Trojans arena in the Students Centre.
It was on that ice where she recently finished her season playing as a winger for the SAIT Trojans women’s hockey team.
The publication ban was lifted by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Hope Hyslop on Feb. 28.
Since then, Petrie’s days have been extremely busy, filled with interviews and calls from reporters nationwide.
Being the tough hockey player that she is, Petrie has complied with constant media interviews since the decision, despite suffering from a recent concussion.
“[Everyone is] really supportive. They say they appreciate what I’m doing and that it’s [a really good thing],” said Petrie.
According to Kamloops This Week, Petrie became friends with Ferber during their time with the Kamloops Hellcats. Ferber was assistant coach to Petrie’s father, Alex Petrie.
Ferber is a an ex-hockey player who played professionally throughout North America and Europe.
Ferber’s talent and experience made many young female players, including Petrie and her teammates, looked up to her.
Throughout 2010 and 2011, Ferber took advantage of Petrie, a confused and impressionable 15-year-old, by making sexual advances and arranging encounters with her, carefully hidden from Petrie’s parents.
By early 2012, the relationship had ended, and Petrie had reached out through counselling and was able to tell her parents about the events, leading to Ferber being charged with sexual interference with an underage person, and sexual exploitation.
With the past behind her, Petrie has garnered inspiration from her experiences to continue on her quest to help people. She expects to attend Mount Royal University in fall 2014 to pursue a degree in social work.
“I’ve always wanted to help people,” said Petrie.
“So I guess [my experience] has given me an insight and solidified [my desire to go into social work].”
Though the experience of having her name published has been “not hard, but different,” Petrie feels relief and has gained a new perspective on what happened.
“It’s changed me in the way of how I look at it, and try to view it more as a positive instead of like letting it negatively affect my life.”
Kamloops This Week reports that Ferber has pleaded guilty to the charges and will be sentenced on April 2.