& Regional Universal Access Tourism Specialist
Sonja Gaudet is Canada’s most decorated wheelchair curler and was inducted into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame in February, 2013. Sonja won gold in three World Wheelchair Curling Championships, and she was the only Canadian Paralympic athlete to take home the gold from both Torino in 2006 and Vancouver in 2010. She is looking forward to bringing home another from Sochi with her team in 2014.
When Sonja fell off a horse and woke up with a complete T5-T6 paraplegic spinal cord injury in 1996, she was a young wife and mother with a three and a six-year-old child. She says finding Peer support and living an active lifestyle played a crucial role in helping her cope with her new daily reality.
“I felt that I really needed to connect with other people in my situation. How do you cook for them? Clean for them? How do you go shopping? How do you go to the bank? How do you do all of that stuff, get them in and out of the car, and how to be as much like the person that you were before your injury as you were?”
“Because really having an injury, it doesn’t change who you are, it changes how you have to do things. So connecting with someone else who was in my situation helped me realize that I could do all these things again, I just had to do them very differently than before.”
In June 2012, Sonja joined Spinal Cord Injury BC (SCI BC) as our first Peer Program Coordinator in Vernon and continues to support Peers in this region. Most recently, Sonja is excited to represent SCI BC’s partnership with TOTA (Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association) as Regional Universal Access Tourism Specialist. Through this role, she promotes the Access BC project and the concept of Universal Design within the tourism industry.
When she isn’t on the ice, Sonja is cycling, rowing, swimming or fishing. She recently started practising yoga and loves it. She lives in Vernon with her husband Dan and their two kids.