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Martin Leduc: “Just keep pushing the limits”

Written by Paul Fraumeni

When he was in Grade 4, Martin Leduc was at a regular medical checkup. He asked the doctor if he could listen to his own heart through the stethoscope. The doctor gave it to him. Martin put one end in his ears and the other part to his chest.

He couldn’t hear anything.

The doctor ordered some tests. It turned out Martin’s hearing was degenerating.

But things worked out. Today, at 17, Martin has almost perfect hearing. And that’s because of technological innovation.

“I’ve had hearing aids since I was nine. Now, I have one in my left ear and two years ago, I had a cochlear implant put into my right ear. So, now my hearing is fine. There is good technology available and I’ve been told it will get even better.”

His hearing may be fine, but that doesn’t mean Martin doesn’t have empathy for others who have hearing challenges.

He’s a trained mentor for the company that makes his cochlear implant, Advanced Bionics. In that role, he helps others learn to adapt to the technology. He recently advised some users how to use an adapter so the cochlear implant would work underwater. Another time, at a demonstration in Ottawa (he and his mom, dad and sister live in nearby Orleans, ON), Martin was approached by a 60-year-old man who was about to get a cochlear implant.

“He was scared. He told me he thought everything would sound robotic and that the procedure to implant the device would be painful. But I’m like, ‘No, really, it's OK.’ I gave him a bunch of tips and tricks and it reassured him. And then I advised him on which options to get. It’s like buying a car. They offer you all these options but you don’t really need them all. So I told him which he would need and which are just nice to have and he said, ‘Oh my God, that's really helpful.’ It’s good we all share problems and solutions. I like being able to do that for people.”

And that’s just one of Martin’s activities. He is, without question, a go-getter.

During the pandemic, he volunteered more than 100 hours making free masks for the Orleans community. He’s been a busy volunteer with the Petrie Island Canoe Club, helping children get started. He’s volunteered for political campaigns, was a page at the Ontario Legislature, was one of 50 students selected for the Ontario Model Parliament program in 2021, sold poppies for the Canadian Legion and daffodil pins for the Canadian Cancer Society and volunteered to make sandbags during several spring floods in Ottawa.

And Martin is a serious and experienced member of the Air Cadet Squadron in Ottawa. Over the past five years, he’s made remarkable achievements – he received his Glider Pilot Wings in the summer of 2022 and during the summer of 2023 took a step up and earned his private pilot’s license at the Moncton Flight College.
But Martin’s achievements aren’t only about himself. Typically, he is passionate about helping others.

“He is a leader amongst his peers,” says Captain Tanya Brook’s, Commanding Officer, 632 Phoenix Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron, “encouraging team work and cooperation and acting with high morals and judgement when making decisions.” Brook’s notes that Martin currently instructs and leads 180 young people and is a “direct contributor of the Squadron’s future leaders, setting a high example with his dedication, passion, and perseverance.”

And as if that wasn’t enough to prove his compassion, Zachary Boisvert, a teacher at Martin’s high school, Collège Catholique Mer Bleue, offers this story.

“During the pandemic and, above all, online, I would do daily one-on-one check-ins with my students. After only a few days, Martin asked me for a check-in during the break. He was fine, but he wanted to take the time to thank me for the check-ins and also to let me know that he feared we weren’t doing enough for the teachers. He wanted to check-in on me.”

Martin originally considered taking engineering at university, with a focus on aerospace, given his love of flying. But he opted for law at the University of Ottawa – partially because engineering calls for a lot of math (“And I really don’t like math,” he laughs), but also because of his skills in research and debating.

“Law can open up many opportunities for me. I think the dream is probably working as an executive at a company like Air Canada or an aerospace company or maybe brokering deals between an airline and an aircraft manufacturer. That would enable me to use the skills I learn studying law with my passion for aircrafts and flying.”

He also has a strong interest in politics, engendered by his time in the Ontario legislature and through his parents, who both work in the public sector.

As he moves into the next chapter of his future, Martin has some advice to young people about whatever challenge they’re facing: don’t give up.

The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) has provided care for Martin during all his years of adapting to hearing aids and the cochlear implant. As he became experienced with the Air Cadets and dreamed of flying, he was worried his hearing challenge – even with the technology – would prevent him from being able to fly.

“I kept thinking, ‘It’s not going to happen.’ But CHEO, which has been fantastic every step of the way, arranged for me to talk with a pilot who is deaf. I asked all kinds of questions and he assured me it would be ok. And now I have my pilot’s license. So, just keep pushing the limits. Ask questions and don't give up, because if you give up without getting an answer, well, what are you really achieving?”

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