Today, the Canadian Paralympic Committee helps honour our country's military mission in Afghanistan as part of May 9 2014 National Day of Honour.
We focus a special tribute to Canadian Paralympian Dominic Larocque, of Quebec City, a former soldier who lost his leg in Afghanistan and who now plays for Canada's National sledge hockey team. His determination, skill and patriotism was further demonstrated as he helped lead Team Canada to a bronze medal finish at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games this past March.
Dominic recounted a bit of his story in a SoldierOn.Ca web feature earlier this year:
It all began in 2007, in the Panjawi District in Afghanistan, where I was deployed with the 3rd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment. On November 27, while on patrol, I was wounded when an improvised explosive device blew up the vehicle that I was riding in. But thanks to the work that my brothers in arms did to save me, I’m here to tell you this story today.
This incident changed my life. I spent several weeks in the hospital recovering from my wounds, the most serious of which involved the amputation of my left leg above the knee. I then had to begin a long process of rehabilitation that eventually enabled me to start doing simple things like stand up and walk again. This whole process took about eight months, during which I suffered many complications and had to have further operations.
In September 2008, I put my uniform back on and went back to work with the 3rd Battalion’s reconnaissance platoon, and a few months later, as a first-aid instructor. In December 2009, I was introduced to sledge hockey by the members of the Montreal sledge hockey team.
One year later, thanks to the Soldier On program, I had the chance to participate in the Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver. This program wanted to introduce wounded military members to the various sports that people with our kinds of injuries can play and give us a chance to try them. I got the opportunity not only to watch several of the national sledge hockey team’s games live, but also to play this sport on the Vancouver Canucks’ home ice! It was at that point that I decided to try to take part in some competitions, and maybe one day to play this sport at the Paralympic Winter Games.
Sochi, RUSSIA - Mar 8 2014 - Dominic Larocque skates to the puck as Canada takes on Sweden during the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. (Photo: Matthew Murnaghan/Canadian Paralympic Committee)
Six months later, I was invited to the national team’s tryout camp, which was held in Petawawa. To my great surprise, I was selected to be a member of the national sledge hockey team, which has only 10 players. Since then, I have had the chance to play this sport all over Canada, as well as in the United States, in Europe, and even twice in Japan. And I have five medals—three gold, one silver, and one bronze—to show for all these efforts.
Now I’m getting ready for the next Paralympic Winter Games, which will be held in Sochi, Russia in 2014. Between now and then, I have a lot of training to do, and I will be playing in competitions all over the world. I want to thank the Soldier On program for everything that it has given me the chance to discover, including the fact that I can still move even though I am missing a leg. So regardless of your disability or your limitations, it is never too late to start moving or to start moving again, and Soldier On will be there to help you do it!
Cpl Dominic Larocque I Soldier On since 2010
Sochi, RUSSIA - Mar 9 2014 - Dominic Larocque celebrates his goal with Anthony Gale Canada vs. Norway at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. (Photo: Matthew Murnaghan/Canadian Paralympic Committee)
A national ceremony on Parliament Hill May 9 2014 will pay tribute to the fallen, the sacrifices of the wounded, and the special burden borne by families. Canadians will be invited to honour the legacy of these heroes with a national moment of silence. Learn more at http://www.app.forces.gc.ca/ndoh-jndc/national-day-of-honour.html