Hall of Fame

Paralympian and Canada Sports Hall of Fame inductee Sonja Gaudet poses with Jordan Kerton of Access Revolution to check out wheelchair access to Okanagan Lake.

Vernon Paralympian Sonja Gaudet is keeping some impressive company as she enters the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.

Joining her in the Class of 2020 are basketball player Steve Nash, equestrian Eric Lamaze, NHL player Sheldon Kennedy, and golfer Lorie Kane, who were all inducted in the Athlete Category.

“My husband and I were on a road trip to Vancouver [on May 27] when Robert Rooney, the chair of the Canadian Sports Hall of fame, called with the news that the names of this year’s inductees were being released. I had known since February, but I had to sit on it. I am honoured and proud to have been selected,” she said.

The presentation ceremonies will be postponed until next year, and there will not be another group of inductees until 2022.

Gaudet is Canada’s most decorated Paralympic curler, winning Paralympic gold in Turin, Italy, in 2006, Vancouver in 2010 and in Sochi, Russia, in 2014. She also won the world championship gold medal three times. She was Canada’s flag-bearer for the Sochi Games and in 2018, Canada Post put her image on a stamp celebrating Canadian women of winter sports.

Gaudet is also a member of the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame and the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

Injured in an equestrian accident when she was 31, Gaudet was unable to continue the sports that she played previously – basketball, volleyball, swimming, tennis and skiing.

“Right away my mind went to, ‘show me the things I can do,’” she said. “I didn’t want to sit on the sidelines.”

She set out to manage her day to day, learning how to function in her home, with her family and in the community.

“My kids, who were three and six at the time of the accident, were my motivators,” she said.

Gaudet hadn’t planned to become a curler. “I was at the Vernon Curling Club to give some advice on the washroom reno and somehow Sharon Morrison and Jan Mori got me on the ice.”

Morrison became her coach and helped her train throughout the seasons. “Curling was also a sport where wheelchair curlers can play on able bodied teams, so like golf, I could play with my husband.”

Gaudet is now on the staff of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association as the Accessibility Specialist. “The goal is to raise awareness, to remove barriers, to make accessibility normal,” she said.

She is currently working with Jordan Kerton of Access Revolution’s Paddling Centre in Vernon to make the club fully inclusive for kayaking and paddle boarding. “We’ve managed to obtain lots of adaptive equipment, including pontoons for kayaks.”

There’s also a beach wheelchair which allows someone access to the water because it’s easy to push through the sand, because, “going to the beach is a big challenge.” BC Parks has donated some of the equipment and including a soon to arrive tandem outfitted kayak that can be taken to various sites.

Gaudet says that the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame induction is different from the many medals she and her team have won.

“I know that the achievements bring attention to accessibility and inclusion and draw attention to the message,” she says.

Class of 2020

Builders: Sheldon Kennedy (hockey), Willie O’Ree (hockey), Ross Powless (lacrosse), Duncan Campbell (wheelchair rugby) and Judy Kent (Commonwealth Games)

Athletes: Basketball player Steve Nash, golfer Lorie Kane, track and field’s Diane Jones-Konihowski, wheelchair curler Sonja Gaudet, horse-and-rider team of Eric Lamaze and Hickstead, and powerlifter Jackie Barrett