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In My Own Words: Antoine Lehoux

The National Para Hockey Team forward talks about what Remembrance Day means to him as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces reserves, and the November 11 that changed his life

Antoine Lehoux
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November 11, 2021
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Remembrance Day means a little bit more to me.

As a former member of the Régiment de la Chaudière of the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve, it means honouring our veterans, those who have given so much in the pursuit of our freedom. I have always been proud to wear the uniform and participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies.

It was on route to one of those ceremonies, on Nov. 11, 2012, that my life changed forever.

I was with my regiment, travelling to the cenotaph in Beauceville, Que., when the bus we were on skidded and flipped. I was thrown through a window and my right leg was trapped underneath the bus.

I was transported to the Saint-François d’Assise Hospital in Quebec City, where my leg was amputated above the knee.

Life would never be the same, but the accident led me down a new path, to para hockey.

Without Nov. 11, 2012. I wouldn’t be where I am today – working towards making my Paralympic dream a reality with Canada’s National Para Hockey Team.

Finding my way

I started skating when I was three years old. I played minor hockey in my hometown of Thetford Mines, Que., and for my high school team. Then I quit.

I had other plans for my life. I joined the Régiment de la Chaudière when I was 16 years old. My long-term plan was to work as a driller and blaster in the private sector and stay in the Reserve part-time. I wanted to go on overseas missions.

Nov. 11, 2012 changed that.

Before my accident, I loved to wakeboard, water ski, downhill ski … any sports, really. I just loved to be outside. I'm not a video gamer.

After my accident, I was scared because I didn't know if I was going to be able to play sports again.

During my recovery in the hospital, I heard about para hockey. But I had absolutely no interests in para sports. To me, they weren't sports.

But when I got home, I went online and watched videos of Paralympic athletes. I saw them running, skiing, swimming. It motivated me – my life was not over!

I told myself that my new reality wouldn't be that bad. Two weeks later, I started rehab at the Centre François-Charron to learn how to walk with a prosthesis. I had high hopes going into rehab, but I learned quickly that moving ahead wouldn’t be as easy as I thought.

Inspiration from new friends

In the early days of my rehab, I met Gaétan "Boutch" Bouchard, a former combat engineer who had suffered a similar injury to mine during a mission in Afghanistan. Boutch invited me to play para hockey with veterans at CFB Valcartier. Meeting people who had the same disability as me really changed my perspective and showed me what I could achieve in the game.

That was also where I met my good friend and Team Canada teammate, Dominic Larocque.

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 Dom was and is a hero and mentor to me. He is a former corporal from Valcartier who lost a leg in Afghanistan. We both had our accident at 19 years old and had the same type of amputation.

In 2013, I was learning the basics of para hockey with Dom, who was preparing for his first Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi. (He was a forward then. Now he’s the best goaltender in the world.) He was cruising around me on the ice at high speed while I was struggling to just move forward on my sled without falling on my side.

This sport was a challenge, and it was one I wanted to conquer.

My new passion

I invested myself heavily into para hockey; it gave me a purpose in my new life. I didn't have a girlfriend at that time. I had nothing but para hockey. I put all my energy into it and in March 2015, I was selected by Hockey Canada for a three-game development series against the United States.

I made my first appearance with Canada’s National Para Hockey Team at the 2016 World Sledge Hockey Challenge, and played at my first world championship in 2019. There’s nothing like wearing the Maple Leaf.

In 2018, I appeared in a TV commercial about aspiring Paralympians. Shortly after, I received a message from a young Quebecer named Jean-François Huneault. He was a goaltender who wanted to try para hockey and asked me for advice. Whatever I said must have worked – he has been attending national team camps for a few years now.

When I look at him, I see myself. He wants to play for Team Canada so bad and he gives everything, just like I did.

Dom gave back to me, I give back to J-F and I’m sure he will do it for someone else.

These days, my focus is on making the Paralympic roster for the Beijing Games. I train once or twice a day, six days a week, and I’m on the road with our 20-player roster, travelling across Canada, to the U.S. or, soon, to the Czech Republic for competitions.

I really want to make this team and win gold in China.

Beyond the game

My story and my Paralympic dream wouldn’t be what they are without Remembrance Day. But despite all that day signifies in my life, it still pales in comparison to what Nov. 11 is truly about.

It is about the Canadians who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms, our values, our country.

It is about the veterans who made it home, but did so with life-changing physical or mental challenges.

For me, Remembrance Day is about honouring those people.

Thank you to all those who serve, and have served.

For more information:

Dominick Saillant
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
514-895-9706
[email protected]

 

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
[email protected]

 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada
Office: 403-777-4567
Mobile: 905-906-5327
[email protected]

 

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