‘I know it’s inspiring people’: Regina man landscaping yards after double amputation

Howard Desjarlais refuses to let his lack of legs slow him down. 

Desjarlais had both of his legs amputated from the knee down. The first amputation came at age 19 and the second at 28. 

Both stemmed from accidental injuries which became infected to the point where the surgery was required.  

Since the second, he has started landscaping lawns and yards around Regina to earn money for his family, including his two kids.

Howard Desjarlais says he misses having full use of his legs, but that won’t stop him from working. (Tyler Pidlubny/CBC)

“My legs don’t stop me from doing what I want to do,” said Desjarlais.

“I like working, and if I don’t get a job done I get frustrated. I have to get it done,” he said.

Desjarlais says he still struggles sometimes with knowing he will never have full use of his legs again.

“I cry here and there at night time,” he said. “I miss them. I do miss them.”

Howard Desjarlais and his mother, Nettie Quewezance, embrace after Quewezance talks about some of the struggles Desjarlais went through after his double amputation. (Tyler Pidlubny/CBC)

There were some tough times after his amputations as well, according to his mom. 

“I think he did kind of go into a depression when he couldn’t get work and whatnot,” said Nettie Quewezance, Desjarlais’ mother, who helps him get to work.

“He kind of fell off, with drugs and alcohol,” she said. “But once he got over that, he was really back to himself.”

Desjarlais has been a hard worker since he was about seven years old, Quewezance said.

To help put food on the table, Desjarlais mowed lawns, shovelled snow and did other odd jobs to earn money.

“There was times that I ran out of food, milk, bread, stuff like that,” said Quewezance. “He would come home with it.”

Nettie Quewezance helps her son, Howard Desjarlais, get to his landscaping jobs around Regina. (Cory Coleman/CBC)

Quewezance says she hopes her son’s experiences help motivate other people in tough situations. 

“I just hope these young people that are living on social assistance and whatnot, take it into consideration that they can get out there and do stuff for themselves,” she said.

Desjarlais has no plans of slowing down. He is currently working with one of his brothers trying to get as many work opportunities as possible. Next he hopes to get a trailer to help haul equipment.

Despite his disability, he is still doing whatever he can to help his family.

“This is my spirit here,” he said while looking at a yard he was working on.

“I know it’s inspiring people.”

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