By Dominique Liboiron
My hard-to-pronounce name might ring a bell. (Just say Dominik Lib-er-on.) If you’ve been reading this paper for several years, you will perhaps remember seeing some of my articles. The first one appeared in the spring of 2007 and I contributed on a regular basis until the fall of 2008.
Since then, I’ve been writing for a number of other newspapers and magazines on a variety of subjects. I’m excited to be back and am looking forward to writing a weekly column in the News called Here and There.
The title reflects the subjects I’ll cover. The word Here refers to events not only in Maple Creek, but includes the Cypress Hills region and the Southwest in general. Because of our many connections and similarities with southeast Alberta, I’ve included it in my definition of Here. As for the word There, it encompasses the rest of the Prairies Provinces, Canada and even the world. In short, Here and There is about sharing my take on local, national and international news in a way that will grab your attention and make you think, debate, question, laugh and cry.
As the title suggests, Here and There will cover a little bit of everything. My commitment to you is that no matter if you’re a rancher, a mother, a business owner, a retiree, if you farm or just plain like to read, you will find the topics in this column of value.
This is the first Here and There. It’s a new beginning for me. And yet in some ways it’s not. Here and There is a new column, but I’ll be drawing on my previous experience as a journalist. In that sense, my past prepared me to write about what’s making news in the present.
Someone else who’s making a new start based on what he did before is Theo Fleury. As an interesting twist, he’s using his experience playing hockey to help him launch a career as a singer.
Known for his intense and pesky style of hockey, Fleury was a Stanley Cup champion with the Calgary Flames and won an Olympic gold medal with Team Canada in 2002. He’s known primarily as an athlete. But that’s changing.
To inaugurate Here and There, I’d like to share a recent conversation I had with Fleury, who was in Medicine Hat on March 6 to perform with his band The Death Valley Rebels.
One of the first questions I asked was in what way did playing in the NHL prepare him for performing on stage. “It’s different, but it isn’t,” he began. “Despite the fact we play hockey, we’re still entertainers.” He explained that with music as in hockey, if you put in the time during practice, you know you’ll be ready when the puck drops or the curtain rises.
Not only did Canada’s game prepare Fleury to give his all in front of thousands of fans, it also inspired his band’s name. During his NHL career, both Edmonton and Calgary had formidable hockey clubs (ahh, the good ol’ days when Canadian teams made the play-offs). Visiting teams didn’t expect to earn many wins playing in Alberta and they nicknamed the road between Calgary and Edmonton “Death Valley.”
Hockey alone doesn’t explain his ability to transition from right-winger to singer. Fleury added that he’s from a small town so he was given a blueprint for success by being taught values like hard work, respect and determination.
As a kid growing up in a Metis family, music was prized. His grandpa was a fiddler while Fleury’s dad and uncle both played guitar. His grandma was a talented jigger. When asked about the mainstream music he most listened to when he was young, Fleury quickly listed Buck Owens, Elvis and Johnny Cash – all the good stuff.
As an artist, Fleury isn’t just singing out of a passion for writing songs and performing. He’s trying to exhaust every outlet available to him in order to change lives and get rid of secrets. The message in his books and speaking engagements is the same as in his songs – all of us have been traumatized in some way so let’s talk about it.
Fleury says that the media was too quick to brand him the poster boy for sexual abuse victims. The abuse happened because he was first made vulnerable by childhood trauma. Sexual abuse was only a small part of his life, one that Fleury says doesn’t define him. He defines himself as a victor of childhood trauma.
The band has performed nearly a dozen concerts already. Fleury said the reception has been great, even in cities where he was hated as a Calgary Flame, most notably Edmonton, “Instead of being booed, I was cheered.”
For more information about Theo Fleury or to learn more about his album I Am What I Am, please visit theofleury14.com.