Pierre Filion – The Face of Quebec Lacrosse
Editor's Note - The pandemic has resulted in activities across the World being delayed or cancelled for the past 20 months, including countless events in the Canadian lacrosse community. However, on Saturday, November 13, 2021 - the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame held a double cohort Induction ceremony for the years 2020 and 2021. A total of 4 players, 2 builders, 1 veteran and 1 team were inducted for each year.
This is the 8th of 16 feature articles pertaining to the most recent teams, players, builders, or veterans inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame. The following article highlights Builder Pierre Filion – the face of Quebec lacrosse for four decades. His tireless efforts were instrumental to the establishment of lacrosse in numerous His tireless efforts were instrumental to the establishment of lacrosse in numerous Quebec communities. He was responsible for the introduction of lacrosse to numerous European countries. Pierre Filion has represented himself, the game of lacrosse, the province of Quebec and the country of Canada and (numerous countries in Europe) in an exceptionally admirable manner. Pierre Filion was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2021 honorued in the Builder category.
Pierre Filion was the face of lacrosse in Quebec for more than four decades. He is a person of integrity who gave a lifelong commitment to the game of lacrosse in a professional, diligent, efficient and passionate manner.
When informed that he is going to be inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, Mr. Filion replied, “I was very surprised. One certainly does not get involved in lacrosse thinking some day I will be in the Hall of Fame. Like many Builders, it was my passion and love for lacrosse that kept me involved. I always kept faith the game could grow, particularly in Quebec. For me – lacrosse is simply the greatest sport and it deserved to be loved and I do love lacrosse. I am grateful for being nominated and thankful to those on the Selection Committee who felt I am worthy of this honor. I am very very happy to hear this incredible news. It was a privilege to serve the game.”
Pierre played lacrosse beginning in 1958 at Peewee and competed up to the Senior “B” level in 1967. His love for lacrosse continued after his days as a player ended with Pierre coaching teams from Bantam to Senior levels for the period of 1964-1979.
In 1975, he took on the position of Technical Director for the Québec Lacrosse Federation. His responsibilities included performing administrative, technical, and organizational needs across the province. He also convened annual Provincial Lacrosse Championships. His tireless efforts were instrumental to the establishment of lacrosse in numerous Quebec communities.
Beyond the province of Quebec, Pierre Filion gave to all of Canadian lacrosse as a member of the Canadian Lacrosse Association Executive from 1976-1986. Pierre served the CLA in other capacities including the role of Chair of Women’s Sector (1976-1987) and Chair of Inter-lacrosse Sector (1984–1990).
In 1987 he organized the Inter Crosse World Games (i), an annual non-political competition where players from National Delegations are divided by "luck of the draw" into "non-national" teams for game play.
In 1990, the United Nations Educational Branch (UNESCO) awarded Pierre Filion the prestigious Pierre deCoubertinInternational Fair Play Award for the creation of the Inter Crosse World Games and his contribution towards cooperation and Peace Through Sports.
Between 1982-1984, Pierre introduced lacrosse in Denmark, France, Belgium, Italy, Cote d'Ivoire, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Mexico, Poland, Netherlands, Hungary and Haiti.
Furthermore, Pierre Filion was a consultant to three lacrosse teams attempting to establish professional lacrosse in Quebec; Montreal Québecois (1974-1975), Québec Caribou (1974-1975) and the Montreal Express (2001-2002).
In recalling specific highlights of his life in lacrosse, Pierre cited several:
- The establishment of a provincial lacrosse governing body, from scratch.
- The development of a successful Québec Team Program at the Canada Games. (In 1973 Québec finished 8th; 2nd in 1977; 1st in 1981; and 3rd in 1985). It is a good example of sound planning, team work and concentration on the objective to win at the Canada Games.
- Québec's contribution towards the CANAM league and the ILA; Working with First Nations and the ILA resulting in the CANAM League being awarded membership with the CLA.
- Field and Women's Lacrosse Programs - In 1982 women had no place in lacrosse, but as volunteers. Organizing Québec men's and women's teams who traveled for two years (1983 and 1984) was a personal highlight because of the organizational challenges involved.
- The establishment of the Québec Caribous of the NLL was the result of a meeting in 1974 with Marius Fortier. In 1975, the Caribous won the NLL championship.
- The introduction of Inter crosse in Québec schools. Between 1985 and 2005 the Québec Federation produced inter crosse sticks and had over 350 schools use them as part of their curriculum in physical education classes.
- The international development of lacrosse - In 1982, the International Lacrosse Federation was a four-country international federation. The game deserved so much more. The Québec Federation became a driving force towards the development of an international status for lacrosse.
- When speaking of those who had influenced him, Pierre Filion spoke with great passion of three individuals. First, Jim Bishop, "I did not know Jim Bishop until 1975. He taught me passion, desire, the will to work, to put in the time, the clarity of goals, the importance of details and the dignity of being involved in the game. He taught me enough was never enough and that we could all go beyond and above what we had already achieved He was my best lacrosse teacher - that full year in 1975 was my first year at the Québec Lacrosse Federation; 43 more years of passions would follow every day, each day because of Jim Bishop".
Pierre also spoke of Joe Cambria - "Joe Cambria came into my life as a 15-year-old midget lacrosse player who was brought up to the Junior team I was coaching in 1974. We all spent the rest of the season watching this phenomenon play. He led by example - dedication, talent and passion. He became the best lacrosse player Québec had ever produced. He was "our Jean Béliveau: and "my Bobby Orr". Joe Cambria is surely the best human being I have ever had the privilege of knowing and to call a friend. When he was President of the Québec Lacrosse Federation, Joe was always there for me - with advice, suggestions, directives, but mostly, he was there with empathy and warmth".
A third person is Gilles Néron. "I met Gilles Néron in 1978; he was a Ph.D. physical education teacher at the Université de Montréal. He had just released a probe on violence in hockey in Québec. I read the report as I was facing numerous difficulties with leagues, players, rules and discipline. Violence in lacrosse was on my plate every day. From Gilles Néron, I learned about ethics in sports, fair play, safety, accuracy, responsibility and credibility. And above all - integrity. He was my mentor, a tower of strength in terms of ethics and a friend. He is still my mentor and friend. I am grateful for Gilles Néron’s patient teaching, Great teachers, great mentors are rare. It is a privilege in one’s life to meet and learn from the best".
It is obvious Pierre Filion has represented himself, the game of lacrosse, the province of Quebec and the country of Canada (and numerous countries in Europe) in an exceptionally admirable manner. Joey Harris (who served as President of the CLA for numerous years) commented, “Pierre Filion was Mr. Lacrosse in Quebec for many years. I could always count on him to straighten the board out on governance issues as he was very knowledgeable about it. I have great respect for Pierre and I consider him a long-time lacrosse friend”.
Respect begets respect and that is Pierre Filion - a worthy inductee into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame – Class of 2021 in the Builder category.
(i) Inter crosse (also called soft stick lacrosse, softcrosse, modcrosse, or pop lacrosse) is a non-contact form of lacrosse
using modified lacrosse equipment. An intercrosse stick is different from a normal lacrosse stick: the head is completely plastic while the head of a traditional stick has a pocket of synthetic mesh or leather and nylon string. The ball is larger, softer, and hollow, unlike a lacrosse ball, which is solid rubber.
(Written by Rad Joseph - Member of Major Series Lacrosse Media team)