As announced during the February 26th meeting of City Council, Weyburn's 2023 Walk of Fame inductee this year is Curt Minard.
Read more HERE.
"It's a pretty incredible feeling," he shared. "When I reflect back on a lot of the moments that shaped my journey, or to find some of those successful moments looking back through sport, I have to say that this is definitely right up there at the very top with many of those moments. I was very, very humbled and honoured to have been nominated for such a prestigious award."
"My grandparents were born and raised, in the 1930s in Weyburn, and set the roots in the community. I'm very humbled to be able to honour them."
While he settled in British Columbia in 2000, Minard said he still thinks of Weyburn as home.
"There are so amazing people that have shaped this journey for me, I'm just very honored that Weyburn felt that I was a good candidate for this award."
A power line technician, Minard, 43, lost his left hand as a result of an electrocution accident on the job 15 years ago. Now, he is also a World Champion Hockey Player [with the amputee Standing Hockey Committee] and a [2018 Pyeongchang] Canadian Paralympian, and a motivational speaker.
For Minard, it has been quite a journey since losing his hand in 2008. His children are now grown, in their twenties.
"They've been able to, as kids, watch some of my moments through sport and obviously lived some of the traumatic journey through my accident," he shared. "I think it's helped showcase to them that anything you put your mind to you can achieve."
Minard said his youngest benefitted especially, being an avid hockey player.
"So being able to see his dad play at a high level with essentially one hand in a prosthetic device, kind of motivated him. He never really put himself in a box and did not believe that he couldn't do something with whatever he set his mind to."
The story that preceded his becoming such an inspiration to his children and his community, began when Minard was new to a job but not to the career, having 11 years of experience at that time. A simple job he had lots of experience doing, presented dicey safety parameters, but his suggestion for a safer way to do the job was not supported by his foreman.
"Consciously, I had a decision to make, whether I was going to carry on the job or not carry through with doing the work," he shared. "When you deal with the level of danger and severity and things that can happen, you're always evaluating risk. Anytime we go to go to work as power line technicians we are in a high high-risk environment, the ninth most dangerous job in the world at one point."
His training told him to get comfortable with the risk, and intuition told him to just pay attention.
Then, his coworker made a mistake and fell, contacting the 14,400 Volt line and falling into Minard's back.
"I was working on a grounded line on the other end of the bucket," he explained. "Essentially it's like sticking a fork into a plug, it's a dead short straight to ground, so me being the grounding point, as both hands were in contact with the grounded wire, I took 14,400 volts to ground through my back, through all my organs, through my heart, my lungs. It exited my hands and specifically more so my left hand. So I took about 5 amps, which is typically about 500 percent more than what most humans will even survive from."
Minard almost died on the scene, and twice more in the burn unit in Calgary.
"So it was a pretty touch-and-go part of my life, looking back at it, it just seems like so long ago. But not that long ago. It's hard to really put it into context, but I came through it and I think there was that underlying will to survive that gets put into reality when you're going through something so traumatic."
He said while some may choose to give up, he has turned it all into an opportunity to mentor others in safety and the importance of speaking up for yourself and refusing an unsafe work environment.
"I had too much to live for. I was a pretty young man at that point. I was 28 years old, so it was a devastating incident and one that's still talked about today."
In the burn unit at the Foothills Hospital in Calgary, Minard first lost his thumb to the accident and then was faced with the decision to amputate his hand for better function and quicker recovery.
"My left hand really took a turn for the worse and I started to break tendons when I was going to physio, and we couldn't get the area on my wrist to close because it was probably 3 to 4 inches long by two to three inches wide. So you could see the tendons and nerves and everything, right through that area," he noted.
"The world of prosthetics was really advancing at that point. There's some really interesting, beneficial stuff that was coming onto the market, and you go, 'what would happen if I would have tried to keep my hand?' Or, you look at these hypothetical scenarios and wonder, how could you not I guess, but I didn't let it stop me. I just carried on, and I go to the airport now sometimes I go on holidays with eight arms like an octopus. So it's pretty amazing the advancement that they continue to make in the prosthetic world. So I'm pretty thankful for that."
Minard has always loved sports, and said, "there's lots of different options and attachments to to play all different types of level of sport. It was very fortunate I picked up on on anything I picked up with prosthetics to sports fairly quick."
However, first it was a challenge just to learn to get dressed.
"It was definitely a learning curve. I am right-handed, so I was fortunate that I didn't have to really learn how to do everything on the opposite hand, but I'm a true believer that the mind is a very powerful tool and when you go through injuries such as mine [...], you just find different ways to do things."
Minard started his own motivational speaking company 11 years ago, albeit reluctantly at first.
"I just felt this kind of empowerment to be able to show kids and youth that there is life after trauma, right? I think it's just so important to be able to help shape and mentor people," he shared, adding he speaks to various industries, including healthcare, oilfield, electrical utilities, and even to schools.
"It sure wasn't easy for me at the beginning to share my journey. But it was for the greater good, obviously, to be able to do that."
"If I can save one person's life, whether it be through speaking about safety or what have you, then this company I started 11 years ago was well worth it. And to me, that just means the world."
The choice to move forward instead of becoming angry about the situation that took his hand has led Minard to the 2018 Paralympics in Pyeongchang, and to becoming a world championship hockey player with the amputee standing hockey committee.
"I mean, you have to choose, and I did just that and I haven't looked back."
As he currently works on starting his own podcast to explore the realm of tragedy and success, Minard said he's looking forward to coming to Weyburn on June 17th to receive the honour of being inducted into the Weyburn Walk of Fame.
"I'm very thankful and humbled for the community of Weyburn for always being there for me and being so supportive of me, through even my accident and the recovery stages all the way through from hockey to the Paralympics in Korea, I don't even have words to even put into an explanation as to what that really means to me and I'm just extremely honoured that I was chosen and I'm very much looking forward to having my name up beside the other great inductees over the last, you know, X amount of years," he said. "So it's one of the highest achievements and moments for me."
Find Curt Minard online HERE.
Below you can hear the full audio and watch one of Curt's safety promotional videos.