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
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
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
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
- A First Father's Day
Antoine Lehoux and Dominic Larocque are veterans in every sense of the word, but when it comes to their new babies, they’re still rookies, balancing family life and Team Canada duties
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
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
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.