Les Canadiennes are leaders. Four time winners of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League championship Clarkson Cup, this Montreal professional female hockey team is synonymous with victory, and the roster is consistently filled with Olympians, national team members, and standout collegial stars. With so many achievements to be proud of on the ice, it is the team’s community involvement off the ice that is making an impact in the fight against an illness that will affect 1 in 8 Canadian women – breast cancer.
No one on the team knows this better than forward Caroline Ouellette and assistant coach Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux. Caroline’s aunt Claire and Lisa-Marie’s mother Joanne were both diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a moment that the two of them would never forget. “My aunt was diagnosed before I had to leave Montreal and spend the next 8 months in Calgary as part of Team Canada’s Olympic Training Program,” Caroline explains. “It was very hard to be away from her and my family, but they told me not to worry and to stay focused on my dream of winning a fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal.”
Lisa-Marie echoes this same sentiment. “When my mother was diagnosed, I was living in Montreal and couldn’t be with her on a day-to-day basis,” Lisa-Marie says. “Even though I wasn’t there physically, I stayed very positive and didn’t let my fear take over.” Thankfully, both Claire and Joanne beat breast cancer, continue to be in remission, and are followed regularly by their respective physicians.
The hockey community is a close-knit family and to support their fellow teammate and coach, Les Canadiennes organize an annual fundraiser called Pink in the Rink, with funds going directly to the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Breast Clinic’s Wellness Program. “As hockey players, we have a responsibility to inspire and give back to our community,” Caroline says. “These initiatives are small ways for Lisa-Marie and me to show our family members how much we admire and love them, and also do something as a team to recognize all of the women that have battled breast cancer.”
Keeping with their tradition of community involvement, this year, Les Canadiennes are also lending their support to the MUHC Foundation’s Enchantée event on October 12 at Le Mount Stephen, which will benefit the Breast Clinic’s Wellness Program. The program provides prevention, treatment, psychological and rehabilitation services to the 15,000 patients per year who visit the MUHC’s Breast Clinic.
The players and coaching staff of Les Canadiennes are the embodiment of the discipline, perseverance and teamwork that it takes to gain success both on and off the ice. “The beauty of team sports is being able to go through a common goal together. In the face of illness, it is the most powerful thing,” Caroline says.
Tickets to the MUHC Foundation’s Enchantée fundraiser cost $200 and can be purchased by clicking this link.