Tessa Bonhomme has a heart of gold

At Canadian Living we are really lucky. We get the chance to meet celebrities, heads of major companies, politicians and stars left, right and centre as part of our jobs. But only every once in a while do we get to meet someone that’s truly got spirit.

Tessa Bonhomme is one of those people.

Tessa Bonhomme by Geneviève Caron

Photography by Geneviève Caron. Top, pinktartan.com. Erdem pants, holtrenfrew.com. Necklace, bracelets; all labordedesigns.comBooties, aldoshoes.com.

By now you’ve heard the news. Tessa Bonhomme was cut from the women’s Canadian Olympic hockey team heading to Sochi.

We got a chance to chat with her on Monday and we were all shocked to hear the news on Tuesday afternoon that she was no longer going to Russia to represent Canada.

Tessa won gold in Vancouver in 2010 with the women’s team and has been a role model to so many young female hockey players. “The support we’ve had is tremendous and unbelievable and I hope it continues,” she said of the fan base that the women’s team has now.

Her role model, Geraldine Heaney was inaugurated into the Hockey Hall of Fame just this week. “I was in awe of her,” said Tessa of meeting Heaney for the first time at the age of 12. “I always thought she was the world’s best person and the world’s best hockey player. She let me wear her Nagano medal and that’s when my Olympic flame was lit. She completely inspired me.”

But Tessa’s more than a jock—she’s also a tireless supporter of charities, especially the Run for the Cure in Sudbury where she’s an honorary chair. “Charity work is probably the most rewarding thing anyone can do,” she said.

“My grandma is a breast cancer survivor,” she explained as she fought back tears. “When she fell ill it was the scariest and hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through in my life. I always knew she was a strong woman but I didn’t know she was that strong.”

Tessa has also done public service announcements and fundraising for Do It For Daron, a grassroots movement started by Daron Richardson’s parents after her suicide at 14, which supports mental health initiatives. Depression runs in Tessa’sfamily — both her grandfather and aunt committed suicide. “[Daron's suicide] was a terrible story but they turned something so tragic into something so helpful,” she said.

Besides her charity work, Tessa’s always up for new experiences. She’s been on Wipeout and she won Battle of the Blades. “I never, ever thought I would figure skate,” she said of winning.

She’s got many hidden talents off the ice as well. She’s an avid puzzler “which makes me feel like I’m 90-years-old” and has a “puzzling posse” of teammates when she’s on the road. She said her teammates would describe her as loud, entertaining, a jokester, —all qualities which rang true in our interview.

But she’s definitely got a softer side.

When I asked her what her interests were outside of hockey she replied: “Family is my interest outside of hockey.” The Sudbury-born star loves going back to her hometown to play on the ice with her cousins.

While we were all sad to hear about her release from the team along with defenceman Brigette Lacquette and forward Jenelle Kohanchuk.

It’s clear that Tessa has a big heart — and we have no doubt that big heart will carry her forward.