A Richly Deserved Tribute to Claude Lesage

Gilles Bellerose’s Passion and Dedication Recognized at Judo Canada’s Annual Gala
28 May 2024
Canadian Judo Community Showcased at 2023-24 Annual Awards and Recognition Gala!
28 May 2024

Montréal, May 28, 2024 – There are people whose dedication makes a major difference to an entire community, even though those people may sometimes go unnoticed. Claude Lesage is one such person, which is why Judo Canada has chosen to present him with the Lifetime Contribution Award.

Photo: Judo Canada / Antoine Saito
Claude Lesage and Brian Kalsen

“He’s the kind of person who can be overlooked, and we had to make sure that didn’t happen to Claude,” said Judo Canada’s CEO and high performance director, Nicolas Gill. “He has never, and I mean never, sought the spotlight. He has always worked in the shadows, giving of his time freely, and it’s very important that we thank him for everything he’s done. Claude perfectly embodies the spirit of the award we’re giving him.”

Lesage’s immense contributions began at the regional level, shortly after he took up judo at the age of 14, in the Sillery district of Quebec City. He quickly developed a deep affinity for the sport, which has endured to this day.

“There was a lot of camaraderie, and it was a great opportunity to get fit and develop self-discipline. It’s a pretty complex sport, and it quickly turns into a way of life, into a school of sorts. It provides a rich learning environment,” explained Lesage. “I started training at the age of 17, and over time, I worked my way up through the ranks in the region.”

Later, his work took him to Ottawa. His passion for judo went with him. He became involved in the sport in the national capital, just as he had done in Quebec City.

A lawyer by training, Lesage joined the board of directors of Judo Québec as secretary general and head of the ethics committee, handling legal and corporate issues, among other things.

“Thanks to my professional training, I had a good grasp of the legal jargon, which allowed me to move our files forward more quickly.”

A similar position awaited him at Judo Canada at the turn of the millennium. Throughout the years, Lesage has been guided by a desire to democratize and professionalize the sport. This was achieved through procedures and rules.

“I’m proud to have contributed to [the sport’s] development,” said Lesage. “It takes humility to assess where you are. The sport evolves, and so do expectations. You have to stay up to date.”

From managing files to teaching and judging on the tatamis, Lesage has contributed to the growth of judo in Canada. It was important to him to give back to the community he grew up with. As he said so succinctly, you can’t practice judo alone. You need training partners, and that’s how strong bonds are forged. And so it has been with the administrative side of his journey.

Multiple horizons

Working at the national level, Lesage has had to collaborate with people from all over Canada, from a wide variety of backgrounds.

“That’s my favourite part,” said the chair of Judo Canada’s legal committee. “Working with other people who love the sport, but who bring diverse perspectives. When you get all those people together, you get a lot more insight. It’s very enriching. Our professional and volunteer jobs influence each other. By taking a step back, you can develop your leadership skills and your ability to listen.”

As Lesage sees it, each person brings a different point of view to the table, challenging established ideas. When he describes the progress that has been made, it is clear that he is proud of what he has achieved.

Unsurprisingly, Gill agrees that he has every reason to be.

“Thanks to his knowledge, he has been able to contribute through very important roles . . . roles that can be thankless, such as policy revision and legal management. There are all sorts of volunteers, and all of their contributions are important. In this country, sports rely on them! Claude is the type of volunteer who gives without asking for anything in return. He really embodies the spirit of volunteering, so I am doubly pleased to present him with this award.”


Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada

For more information:

Patrick Esparbès
Chief Operating Officer
Judo Canada
(514) 668-6279

Subscribe to our newsletter – Inscription à notre infolettre

Subscribe to our newsletter – Inscription à notre infolettre

Subscribe to our newsletter – Inscription à notre infolettre