Dany Laferrière has a football injury to thank for his career path. While studying in his fourth year at the Collège Militaire Royal de Saint-Jean, he injured his knee badly, which ruled out continuing his career as an artillery officer. The Quebec native had three options: leave voluntarily, be thrown out or choose a different military profession from the limited list of available trades.
Laferrière’s choice to stay and take up military communications led to a spectacular 20-year career in the Canadian Forces, with six awards in his arsenal, including a NATO medal, a United Nations medal and a Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal.
His deployments have included Haiti, Bosnia, Croatia, Italy and Afghanistan, where he advised military commanders and superiors about what needed to be communicated about the missions, ensured news and updates got to the military families, and worked with stationed journalists onsite, among other tasks.
“You have to be careful what you communicate and how, and when, and to whom,” Laferrière says. “There are obviously some operational considerations when you’re moving a convoy down a very narrow road and there are people out there who would love to be able to ambush you.”
As a child, Laferrière dreamed of being a police officer, so his mother suggested he try out military cadets to see if he could handle regiment and routine. As an “all-over-the-place” kid, especially when it came to studying, the military’s “get it done attitude” helped Laferrière focus on tasks and become more organized.
“You can procrastinate, but where’s it going to get you? With the military, it’s not possible,” he says. “It’s basically, ‘Here’s what you need to do, and you will do it by this day.’
It’s not a choice. And now, that’s how I look at everything.”
After a three-year post as manager of the National Defence Public Affairs Office in Calgary that ended in 2007, Laferrière decided it was time to settle down in Cowtown with his wife and three children.
He is now the manager of media relations for Suncor Energy Inc., as well as president of the non-profit Goldstar Skating Academy. On top of this, he commits about 30 days per year to the Canadian Forces as an instructor of public affairs, all the while feeding his renovation addiction, including fixing up his cottage at Gull Lake.
So is Laferrière, then, someone who can’t sit still?
“My wife would tell you that I sit still quite a bit,” he says, laughing. “But generally, my idea of fun is not about sitting in a house and doing nothing for a full day.”
Why he’s the top: An illustrious 20-year career in the Canadian Forces has netted him numerous accolades and honours. These days, his commitment to his new hometown of Calgary keeps him busy, between work, volunteering and family time.
The key to his success: “I’m driven. I can’t accept anything else than my best,” says Laferrière. “I’m not going to accept poor work.”