Stories of Girls Making a Difference

Biography of Abigail Hoffman

Picture of Abigail Hoffman

Name: Abigail "Abby" Hoffman
Date: Born 1947
Role: Hockey pioneer, Olympian, activist
Girlhood achievement: Advancing equality for women and girls in sport and beyond

In 1956, organized girls' and women's hockey was still a future dream. But at the age of nine, Toronto-born Abby wanted to play now. The intrepid young athlete cut her hair, shortened her name to "Ab," joined a boys' hockey team and skated to stardom. She helped her team to the playoffs, but officials discovered she was a girl and refused to let her play. Abby's story made headlines. She successfully challenged hockey's "boys-only" policy, finishing out the season with her team.

Abby's greatest sports successes were in track and field. As a teenager, she won a gold medal for the 800-metre event at the 1963 Pan-American Games. She went on to represent Canada in many major games, including four Olympics.

A lifelong activist, Abby has fought against racism and sexism, and for women's rights in sports, among many other causes. In 1981, she became the first woman to head Sport Canada, a post she held for 10 years before joining Health Canada, where she is Assistant Deputy Minister responsible for Strategic Policy. In 1982, Abby was named to the Order of Canada. In 2004, she was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.

Abby lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Abby Hoffman – a history-making Canadian girl and a great Canadian woman.

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