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Colette Bourgonje has made a lasting impression on the Saskatchewan amateur sport community

Photo credit: Canadian Paralympic Committee

The accolades keep coming for Porcupine Plain’s Colette Bourgonje, who was announced on May 20 as one of five athletes included in the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame’s 2021 Induction Class. 

Previous inductions for Bourgonje are  the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame (1998, athlete), the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame (2010, athlete) and, most recently, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (2019, athlete).  

“I’m thrilled to be part of the sport —a very small part— of this sport family in Saskatchewan,” said Bourgonje in the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame induction announcement video. “It’s a huge honour to be inducted.” 

While Bourgonje may believe she’s only a “very small part” of the Saskatchewan sport scene, her history and current endeavours would indicate otherwise. 

Games success 

In her time as a dual-sport athlete, competing in wheelchair racing and para Nordic skiing, Bourgonje attended 10 Paralympic Games — seven Winter Games and three Summer Games. 

Over those Games, she won three silver medals and seven bronze medals, carried the flag at the closing ceremonies for both the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano and the 2006 Winter Games in Turin and was awarded the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. 

Those accomplishments have put her in a select group of athletes as one of only 136 people worldwide to compete in both the Winter and Summer Paralympics, as well as one of only five worldwide to win a medal at each. Just two other Canadians have done so. 

Bourgonje has also captured medals at multiple Commonwealth Games and World Cups. 

Her successes have led to her being a multi-time finalist for the Saskatchewan Sport Awards Female Athlete of the Year and to her winning the award in 2010. 

Para Sport Tour 

In an effort to spread awareness of adaptive sports and how people can get involved, Bourgonje created Saskatchewan’s first Para Sport Tour Dream Relay in 2016. 

The 10-day tour from Prince Albert to Regina between June 8-17 was designed to relay a dreamcatcher the 363-kilometre distance between the two cities and incorporated stops along the way to introduce adaptive sport activities in different communities. 

“There’s opportunities for [people with disabilities] and we just want to make them aware of all the various sports they can be involved in,” Bourgonje told CBC on the first day of the Tour

Dream Relay 2016 
June 8: Prince Albert to Duck Lake (52km) 
June 9: Duck Lake to Rosthern (21km) 
June 10: Rosthern to Warman (45km) 
June 11: Warman to Saskatoon (22km) 
June 12: Saskatoon to Hanley (52km) 
June 13: Hanley to Davidson (51km) 
June 14: Davidson to Craik (27km) 
June 15: Craik to Chamberlain (29km) 
June 16: Chamberlain to Lumsden (57km) 
June 17: Lumsden to Regina (25km) 

Coaching the next generation 

Like many athletes, since retiring from competition Bourgonje has transitioned to a coaching role. 

As a National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) coach, she has attended two Canada Winter Games with Saskatchewan’s cross-country skiing team in 2015 and 2019.  

She’s also coached and mentored two-time Paralympian and 2018 Paralympic bronze medalist Brittany Hudak in para Nordic skiing. 

“We’re great partners,” said Hudak. “She’s helped me like so much along the way and is just such an inspiration for me that it always made me want to be better.” 

With files from the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame