Jean Riley Senft is the latest in long list of worthy recipients to be appointed to the Order of Canada after decades of service to figure skating.
Feeling “honoured,” Senft found out about the appointment in mid-November, and had to keep the exciting news a secret from her loved ones.
“I actually received a phone call from the Governor General's Office on November 17. And so I've had to keep this a secret for some time,” she said.
“I had been receiving so many robo calls from numbers I didn't recognize and this number I did not recognize, and I almost didn’t answer the call. But it had a name under it, I didn't know the name, but I thought maybe this is something I should answer. So I took the call.”
One of 135 new appointments to the Order, Senft was recognized by the Governor General for “her contributions to the sport of figure skating as one of Canada’s leading judges and promoter of fairer judging rules.”
Created in 1967, the Order of Canada honours people whose service “shapes our society, whose innovations ignite our imaginations and whose compassion unites our communities.”
But when reflecting on why she may have received the order, and why specifically now, Senft recalls her work at the 1998 Nagano and 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Games. In 1998, Senft exposed corruption within the judging ranks, and in 2002, it was determined a similar thing was occurring.
“I think I've received this order because of the path I took after those Olympics, where I stood up for the right of athletes to have a level playing field, and went all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, to prove that judges were cheating and predetermined results.”
Having solid backing from Skate Canada now, Senft said she feels incredibly humbled by the award.
“The road was often uncomfortable and lonely. And so to have this recognition now, I'm grateful for it.”