Canadiens defenceman Mike Matheson visits St. Gabriel School

matheson with kids and mascot
Montreal - Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Montreal Canadiens defenceman Michael Matheson took a kindergarten class at St. Gabriel Elementary School in Pointe St. Charles on an interactive adventure on April 17 to help promote the Champions for Life Foundation, a non-profit which promotes the importance of an active lifestyle for youngsters aged four to eight.

Matheson, who was born and raised in Montreal and joined the Canadiens this season via a trade from Pittsburgh,  took the youngsters on a journey with Marco, a young boy who has to a walk on a floating log and jump from rock to rock to cross a river in search of a banana.

When he finished reading the Little Champions interACTIVE story, he joined Champions for Life founder David Arsenault in helping the youngster replicate the skills displayed in the story. 

Later, Matheson and Arsenault spent time with students in Grades 1 through 6. After fielding questions from podcast host Tony Marinaro, the students had a chance to quiz Matheson about his hockey career.

Arsenault and Matheson have a long history of working together. Arsenault was a strength and fitness coach when he started training a 13-year-old Matheson, helping him on the road to an NHL career.

Matheson told the youngsters that you don’t have to reach the NHL or win trophies to be a champion.

“We are all champions in sport and in life if we are determined to do our best,” said Matheson. 

Arsenault, whose foundation receives support from the Quebec government and the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation, said it was crucial to promote an active lifestyle at an early age. He noted the prevalence of how video games drew youngsters away from an active lifestyle and suggested adults shared the blame by providing this technology and not limiting its use. 

The Champions for Life Program has been running at St. Gabriel Elementary School since 2016, thanks to the generous support of the Montreal Canadiens Children’s  Foundation. Longtime volunteer Carol Ann Clifton has been a key player and she presented Matheson with a St. Gabriel cap and gift bag.  

Among the special guests was Kaizen, the Champions for Life mascot, and EMSB representatives.


Here is a CTV report

Here is a Global TV report

Here is a CityNews Montreal report


About the English Montreal School Board

With a youth and adult sector population of more than 35,000 students, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is the largest English public school board in Quebec. Established on July 1, 1998, when the province created new boards along linguistic lines, the EMSB network consists of 73 schools and centres. For more details, visit the EMSB website at

About the Champions for Life Foundation

The Champions for Life Foundation empowers children to move well and helps them build the skills, confidence and motivation to be active for a lifetime. It offers physical literacy programs, resources, and expert technical assistance to schools and communities, especially those in underserved areas. To learn more about how they develop healthy, active environments where children thrive, visit or find them @championsforlifefoundation on social media.



Michael J. Cohen
Manager, Marketing and Communications
English Montreal School Board
Cell: 514-826-0383

David Arsenault
Founder & Executive Director
Cell: 514-825-5934

Christopher Laurin
Director, Marketing & Development
Cell: 514-963-1736

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