By Martin Laruelle
Young athletes and authors Sophie and Valérie LeVasseur marked International Women’s Day on March 8 in unique fashion, completing an interview with the 90th remarkable Canadian woman (out of the 100 they’ve forecast) – for their latest book project, inspired in large part by their own journeys in sport.
Sophie, a goalie for a boys’ hockey team and a baseball player for Bytown Dodgers, has her sights set on making waves in the male-dominated sports world. The Grade 9 student in Louis-Riel high school’s specialized sports-study program would like to one day play university baseball in the U.S.
“I love sport,” concurs younger sister Valérie, a Grade 6 Ste-Geneviève student and also a hockey player. “It takes up a lot of my time. I learn a lot from it, and I enjoy just taking to people on the bench. I couldn’t live without sport.”
Despite their love of sport, the girls have encountered sexism on occasion. Their personal reflections on their experiences in sport occupies a few pages of the book they published late last year called The Ottawa Senators: The Triumph of Determination – a family project detailing the local NHL club’s history (including the original Sens from the early 1900s). The LeVasseurs donated sales proceeds to the Ottawa Senators Foundation.
The LeVasseur sisters are drawing plenty of inspiration from the 100 groundbreaking Canadian women they will profile in their latest work.
“These women really give us hope, and they allow us to reach our goals,” signals Sophie, who’s spoken to numerous athletes for the book including women’s hockey and baseball players, as well as Senator Chantal Petitclerc, the 14-time Paralympic champion in wheelchair racing.
“Our whole family is involved,” notes Valérie. “Our dad (a Telfer School of Management professor at the University of Ottawa) handles getting in touch with the people and calls them. For myself and my sister, we take care of interviewing them et researching more about them. And my mom takes notes.”
The goal of the book is ultimately to inspire and guide young Canadian girls. There are a lot of amazing Canadian women, but not all of them are well-known, the girls explain. These women’s stories deserve to be discovered, and telling their tales helps provide an understanding of Canadian history, they add.
The LeVasseurs hope to wrap up their work on the 100 remarkable Canadian women in the next few months. They’ve already begun thinking about their next planned initiative – to write about 15 values for young girls in collaboration with the United Nations.
“What’s really pushed us to write these books is to be a leader in the community for others,” highlights Valérie. “To learn more ourselves, and help spread knowledge to other people, because our community is really like a second family.”