Dominique Contois grew up in a home filled with emotional and mental abuse. Both of his parents were alcoholics and were absent most of the time.
"It was tough. There was a lot of drinking in the home and violence," Contois explained. "Family and friends would try to help us by giving us food."
Contois says his father passed away when he was just nine years old due to cancer, and that's when he said things got worse.
"I kind of went downhill for a bit. I ran away from the people who wanted to help. I experimented with smoking and stuff like that," said Dominique. "I lived the life that my parents raised me in for the first part of my adult life."
This lifestyle went on for years. Dominique spent his weekdays working but would turn to alcohol on the weekend. It wasn't until he was 23 years old that life changed for the good.
He moved in with the people that helped raise him, Margaret and Bob. They gave him an ultimatum and told him he would either have to get a job or go back to school.
"I chose to go back to school," said Dominique. "I graduated from the Aboriginal Community Campus in Winnipeg. I met a girl and had my first child."
"I knew how I didn't want to be, so I got a job. I was a teacher's aid for the Aboriginal Community Campus for a year and got involved with drop-in centres, group homes and anything that would help save other youth from what I had gone through."
He says it's thanks to his adopted mother and father, Ken and Margaret, that he is who he is today.
"Ken and Margaret are the salt of the earth. They'd be model parents," Contois explained. "They never had any children of their own but they certainly raised us like their own."
Dominique said every moment they could spend teaching him and his brother something, they would.
"They helped culture us. They helped show us that there is more to life than just drinking, fighting and promiscuous lifestyles. They were the backbone of us being able to break that cycle."
On September 10, 2020, Ken was tragically taken from their life in a head-on collision that involved distracted driving.
"There were no hugs, no goodbyes. He was just gone," said Dominique. "I felt very dizzy. I didn't believe it. I was shocked. I was pretty mad. I felt like a little kid again. I felt lost."
Dominique says the past two years have been difficult for the family as they try to deal with the loss of Ken.
"The world doesn't stop for people when they die, but I think Ken was one of those people that the world deserved to stop for. He was just wholesome."
To pay tribute to Ken, and to help keep his memory alive, Dominique and his family have started up a charity, K~&~M Cycle 230.
"It's to help raise money for non-profit organizations to work with inner-city kids to help give them the support they need," Contois explained.
For their first annual fundraising ride, Dominque says they will be cycling the route their father would drive to work every day. Cyclists will meet up on Saturday, July 9, at The Forks and cycle 230 kilometres to Roseisle and back.
This Saturday, Dominique will be cycling from Portage la Prairie to Winnipeg to collect donations in person. Anyone interested in helping out can meet him along the way.
Today on Connections, Dominique shares his family's story. He'll also chat about his fundraiser and how people can get involved.