Métis student pursues hockey dreams
Jason L'Heureux (Métis)
Bantam Boys Hockey, Saskatchewan
Jason L’Heureux has devoted his life to coaching hockey. The Métis student from Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan grew up playing hockey and has been coaching for several years. He is so passionate about the sport that he managed to secure a co-op work term as a Bantam boys hockey coach in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, where he is currently working full-time as a Grade 9 teacher as part of his Master of Education program at UVic.
“Being a coach is an all-consuming vocation. You have to love going to the rink and you need to find the positive during trying times,” says Jason. “You need a thick skin and a lot of patience. I pursued this coaching job because I wanted to coach players who want to work at hockey as hard as I do.”
He is excited about the league, because it is often viewed as a gateway to the NHL. He has high hopes for his charges, many of whom are also Aboriginal. “Having a history in the community gives me insight into the players and their families. I feel a connection with them because at one time I was exactly like them,” he says.
However, because he knows the players and their families, sometimes it makes his job more difficult. “When you have to make the decision to cut the son or daughter of a friend, it’s not an enjoyable thing to do but it’s the cost of doing business,” he says.
Jason’s family has a proud Aboriginal heritage. His great great grandmother was Lucy Gladstone, the sister of Canada’s first Indian Senator, Jim Gladstone. “I think my heritage makes me stronger and more capable. It has provided me with a greater range of experiences, which gives me more tools to build relationships and solve problems,” says Jason. He acknowledges that some Aboriginal students face barriers, but chooses not to see them. “I prefer to focus on the solutions to life’s challenges. My challenges are the same as most mature students. I am trying to balance my budget, my time and provide stability for my family."
Jason credits a lot of his success to his wife, Roxanne, and their children. When they left Saskatchwan so that Jason could attend graduate courses at UVic, she was traveling with a newborn baby who was not even a month old. “There are not very many women who would say `let’s summer in Victoria with a six-year-old and a baby, in a city where we have no family and friends’,” he says. But somehow, it all fell into place.
Jason plans to complete his master’s program, then ultimately to pursue a career in coaching for Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) or the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC). In the meantime, he’s looking forward to coaching his son Danton’s novice team. He encourages other Aboriginal students to consider how co-op can provide work experience that is connected to their own communities and interests.