Statement on Saskatchewan Paralympian Wins Silver

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Vancouver 2010 Winter Paralympics got off to a great start this past weekend. I’m proud to announce that Colette Bourgonje from Saskatoon captured Canada’s first medal on Sunday, winning a silver in the 10-kilometre cross-country sit-ski.

Collette Bourgonje is originally from Porcupine Plain but now resides in Saskatoon. She was a nationally renowned cross-country runner, and after a tragic accident in 1980 she took up wheelchair racing and later cross-country skiing in the sit-ski class.

Not only is Ms. Bourgonje the only Canadian to compete in all five Paralympic Winter Games, this weekend’s silver medal makes her the first Paralympian to win a medal on home turf. Ms. Bourgonje, who is 48 years old, proudly told the media that, “Age is nothing, attitude is everything and I lived by that today.”

Mr. Speaker, the Paralympics emphasize the participants’ athletic achievements, not their disability. As the official motto of the “Spirit In Motion” attests, the games are a remarkable display of how to overcome physical barriers to succeed.
As Sir Philip Craven, president of the international Paralympic committee, put it so eloquently: “The paralympic movement inspires people both with and without a disability to interact in the same global family, enjoy equal social rights and build a harmonious world together.”

I ask all members to join with me today in congratulating Colette Bourgonje on her silver medal, and in wishing all Canadian Paralympians good luck in the days to come.

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