Calgary man facing sex charges involving Young Canadians performance group

A longtime administrator with The Young Canadians performance group at the Calgary Stampede is facing sexual charges dating back to the 1990s involving several teenage performers.

CALGARY — A longtime administrator with The Young Canadians performance group at the Calgary Stampede is facing sexual charges dating back to the 1990s involving several teenage performers.

Philip Heerema, 52, faces 13 charges that include child pornography, sexual assault, luring a child via a computer and inciting sexual contact with a youth.

The Young Canadians performance school involves 120 students from the Calgary area. They train to deliver public performances, most notably during the grandstand shows at the Calgary Stampede.

Police say they received a complaint from a student and his parents in January 2014 of an inappropriate relationship with a “person of authority” with the troupe.

“The investigation began with one victim coming forward initially and, as our investigators conducted their interviews, more people were identified and spoken to,” Staff-Sgt. Melanie Oncescu said Friday.

As a result, there are now seven alleged victims, she said.

One of the complaints dates back to 1997. All seven complainants are male and were between the ages of 15 and 18 at the time of the alleged encounters.

“The offences took place in Calgary — some off site and some on site.”

Heerema worked with The Young Canadians for 36 years. He resigned after the investigation began, but was listed on the school’s website as business administrator and production services co-ordinator.

A cached profile from the troupe’s website details how Heerema worked with the program in many areas including costuming, props, sets and lighting.

“Acting as trainer, Phil consults and co-ordinates physical therapy to The Young Canadians cast. He joins the rest of the TYC staff and crew in making sure the show goes on and that the cast enjoys a quality experience with the program.”

Oncescu said he was in a position of authority.

“Whether he’d be a coach or someone within management within the organization he was put in a position of trust with the performers.”

Officials with the Calgary Stampede said the organization is “shocked and saddened” by the news.

“In late January 2014 a student and a parent approached us with serious allegations of inappropriate communications between an administrative employee of the program and some students,” said Kurt Kadatz, director of community engagement and communications.

“Within 30 minutes of becoming aware of that allegation we suspended the employee. We removed him from the premises and directed him not to communicate with anyone involved with the program.”

Kadatz said the Stampede immediately began its own investigation and contacted the parents of the students to inform them about what was happening.

Oncescu said it’s possible more alleged victims will come forward.

“The Young Canadians were made aware — and I believe they’ve done their own information sharing in relation to this event — in hopes that if there were any other people they would come forward.”

Just Posted

In this Monday, March 15, 2021 file photo a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is pictured in a pharmacy in Boulogne Billancourt, outside Paris. Questions remained Wednesday about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Canada, as Manitoba limited use of the shot and Ontario announced it planned to save an incoming shipment to use as second doses.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Christophe Ena, File
Alberta could receive 76,500 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine next week

Alberta should be getting a large shipment of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine… Continue reading

An anti-lockdown protest went ahead outside a café in central Alberta on Saturday, despite pouring rain and a pre-emptive court injunction. (Photo by The Canadian Press)
RCMP investigating online threats made against officers who were at central Alberta protest

Online images purportedly showing officers attending weekend rally at Mirror in rifle crosshairs

Bowden Institution Black Press file photo
Bowden Institution inmate dies from COVID-19 complications

Bowden death the sixth in Canada’s federal prison system

(Contributed)
FOUND: Police locate Red Deer missing youth

Red Deer RCMP thank the public for their assistance

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer and several members of city council helped kick off the spring Green Deer cleanup campaign on Wednesday. Veer said city workers do their best to keep the city looking good, but need volunteer help to get rid of litter that has blown into bushes onto road sides over the winter. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff)
Red Deer city councillors launch spring Green Deer campaign

Volunteers are needed to keep the city looking good

Adam Feller reacts as he gets his Pfizer-BioNTech shot at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Thursday, May 13, 2021, in Montreal. Quebec has become the latest province to stop giving Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 shot as a first dose.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Ontario keeps stay-at-home order; Quebec pauses Oxford-AstraZeneca shots

Ontario has announced it’s keeping its stay-at-home order in place until at… Continue reading

The flag of the Supreme Court of Canada flies outside the building following a ceremony in Ottawa, Monday March 15, 2021. The owners of a horse that was disqualified after initially winning the Canadian Derby more than three years ago might have run out of legal room to reclaim the title. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Supreme Court won’t hear appeal from horse owners over derby dispute

OTTAWA — The owners of a horse that was disqualified after initially… Continue reading

People take part in a protest called 'Justice for Joyce' in Montreal, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, where they demanded justice for Joyce Echaquan and an end to systemic racism. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Quebec coroner’s inquest into death of Joyce Echaquan begins as her family testifies

MONTREAL — The husband of an Indigenous woman who was subjected to… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault, centre, speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Quebec tables revamp of French-language law, toughens rules for businesses, schools

MONTREAL — The Quebec government reasserted the right of Quebecers to live… Continue reading

Permanent residency
Canada announces new pathway to permanent residency for families of crash victims

Ottawa is launching a new policy to help the families of victims… Continue reading

Co-founders Craig (left) and Marc Kielburger introduce Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau as they appear at the WE Day celebrations in Ottawa on November 10, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Ethics watchdog: PM didn’t violate conflict rules over WE Charity, but Morneau did

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not breach the Conflict of… Continue reading

Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore, center, celebrates after scoring a goal against the Columbus Crew with teammates from left, forward Tsubasa Endoh, defender Omar Gonzalez and forward Patrick Mullins during the second half of an MLS soccer match, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Bradley, Altidore scores in Toronto FC’s 2-0 win over Crew

ORLANDO, Fla (AP) — Michael Bradley had a goal and an assist,… Continue reading

A football with the CFL logo sits on a chair during a press conference in Winnipeg, Friday, November 27, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Former defensive lineman Klassen tackling retirement as he did opposing quarterbacks

Klassen spent seven CFL seasons with Montreal, Calgary and Ottawa

Most Read