Canadian Firefighter Magazine

From firefighter to reality game show finalist: Leroy Fontaine’s journey to the top three

By Brittani Schroeder   

Features editors pick firefighter First Responders Nova Scotia

Photo: Courtesy of CTV

In autumn 2023, a fresh installment of a reality TV series made its debut: The Traitors Canada. This unique game featured chosen ‘traitors’ eliminating fellow contestants discreetly, while the ‘faithful’ participants attempted to uncover the saboteurs. Among the faithful was Leroy Fontaine, a firefighter from Halifax, N.S.

Editor Brittani Schroeder sat down with Fontaine to delve into the intricacies of his journey to reach the final three contenders.

Q: When did you decide you wanted to be a firefighter?

Throughout my youth, I played football, and I learned what it meant to work with and give back to the community. Eventually, I was faced with a choice of what I wanted to do with my life. I could go on to play football at the professional level, I could finish my degree, or I could do something else. Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to serve my community. Fire fighting fit the bill perfectly.

I had spoken to numerous firefighters before making my choice, to get a sense of what I would be walking into, and that started me down this path.


Ten years ago, I went to Lakeland College and obtained an Emergency Services Technologist Diploma, which covered my training for being a firefighter and a primary care paramedic.

My first job out of college was working as a firefighter/paramedic for Shell Canada in Fort McMurray, working at the oilfield. Four years later, I moved to Halifax where my role was more in the educational side of things. I was an instructor and technical support specialist focusing on confined space rescue, technical rescue and the like. After a year there, I made the switch to Halifax Regional Fire Emergency. This was the best transition of my life; I truly love working there.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about the show, and how you were chosen to partake?

Before The Traitors Canada, I had been on a reality show before, and I think that opened the doors for my recruitment for this show. When I was approached, initially I didn’t know I’d say yes. I hadn’t heard of the show before, so they gave me a quick summary of what it would entail, and let me know that it had been successful in several other countries. I binge-watched every season before giving them an answer. I didn’t think it was my cup of tea, but I told myself not to pass on the opportunity.

In the show, 20 contestants live in a manor near Montreal, Que., all with the hopes of winning a $100,000 prize. A small group of contestants become the traitors and must work as a team to eliminate the other contestants to win the money. The faithfuls, on the other hand, must discover who the traitors are and banish them to win the prize. If even one traitor remains at the end, the full prize pot would be awarded to them and the faithful would leave with nothing.

I thought I was going to be picked as a traitor, and I honestly wanted that because I wanted to be in control of the outcome. Maybe that’s just the firefighter in me, hoping to control the situation. When I wasn’t selected as a traitor, though, it was the biggest relief. I then threw everything I had into playing the most faithful game ever.

Photo: Courtesy of CTV

Q: What skills transferred over into the show that you use regularly as a firefighter?

I feel like a lot of little things helped me out. I opened up right away to my fellow contestants and told them the truth. I said who I was and what I did for a living because—and I said this in my audition tape—who doesn’t trust a firefighter?

I think I initially won some people over, but I wanted to gain everyone’s trust. I needed to create those relationships and build the bonds. I do that in my personal life, so I knew I could do that on a TV show. So much relationship-building happened that wasn’t seen in the aired show, because you can’t include everything in the final edit. Communication was almost non-stop – travelling to and from the missions, mingling in the manor and time at the ‘round table’ where we would eliminate another player.

During the missions, I found my firefighter background truly helped me out because of how fitness-focused they were. Some of those missions would drain the other contestants, and they would start making mistakes. As a firefighter, we don’t have room for mistakes. Even if we’re tired, we still need to be calculated and critical thinkers. Being able to make sound decisions when my fellow castmates were too tired to do so was very beneficial for my game.

One mission stands out for me, where I feel I was able to show my confidence while also pulling the best out of everyone else. In the barrel mission, we needed to push large wooden barrels through a forest and up large hills. These barrels represented different amounts of money. I put in a lot of work, pushing the biggest barrels, but I was also consistently encouraging my team members, as I would on the fire ground. We worked as a collective, but at one point I had to take control and tell my team to drop the barrels that were low denominations to give priority to the bigger denomination barrels. It was nice to be in that position but also do it in a way that was respectful of everyone and their efforts.

Knowing that I went in as Leroy Fontaine, the firefighter, the Indigenous family man, and came out the same way is a win in itself. I almost won it all—I was just one vote away.

There was a point, however, when my name started coming up in conversations about who could be a traitor. Everyone started to recognize how well I was doing in my social game and during the missions, and they started questioning how I could remain so calm throughout it all. But again, that just ties back to my career as a firefighter and seeing tense, critical situations regularly. People thought I’d been around for a little too long, but I was never voted out. Not until there were only three contestants left and the doubts of my faithfulness won. A traitor went home with the prize money.

Q: What was it like returning to real life after filming?

Filming took place in late summer 2023. After I returned home, I needed to take some time to decompress from the show. I was there until the end of filming, which meant I had seen it all and was bringing home a lot of emotional stress and baggage. During filming, everyone was constantly thinking of strategies, and it was mentally exhausting. Ultimately, I had to remind myself that it was just a show, and we were all playing a game.

My work rotation is 24 hours on, 72 hours off, so I went back to work for a day when I returned to Halifax and then was able to mentally rest for a few days after that.

I feel good now, even though it would’ve been nice to go home with almost $50,000 in my pocket. It was a great experience overall, and if someone asked me to do another series, I would probably say yes.

Photo: Courtesy of CTV

Q: Do you have any words of advice for other firefighters who may have the same opportunity to join a reality TV show?

As firefighters, we hold ourselves to a high standard within the public eye, and it’s always in the back of our minds. We always want to represent our team and community well.

In a show like this, where there’s a game focused on deceit and misleading people, representing myself properly could’ve been hard. I knew I’d only be happy, on the show and afterwards, if I represented my values well and played the game as close to my true values as I could: integrity, respect and honesty. I knew the game would push me to go outside of those values, but I needed to stick to them as much as I could.

Knowing that I went in as Leroy Fontaine, the firefighter, the Indigenous family man, and came out the same way is a win in itself. I almost won it all—I was just one vote away.

So, my advice for anyone who is approached to do something similar is to make sure you’re prepared to deal with the after-effects of the show, whether it’s battling with yourself, your core values and what you represent, or the outside community that’s going to question you about it. At the end of the day, the viewers also need to understand that it’s TV, and there will always be a production aspect to it. We all want to make a good TV show.

So, represent yourself well but play the game.

Q: Do you have any final thoughts on this experience?

Everything I do is about being a role model and representing everyone. I have that responsibility as an Indigenous man, as a firefighter, as a father and friend. I am involved in the community in every way, and I wanted to go into that show and represent them all. I wanted to win it for them.

I’ve received a lot of messages since the show aired, telling me I made people proud to be Indigenous and proud to be firefighters, after seeing me on the show. I think my mission was accomplished.

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