Canadian Heritage

Canadian Heritage

March 22, 2010 10:28 ET

Statement by the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, and the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of State (Sport)...

...on the Presentation of the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award

WHISTLER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - March 22, 2010) - The Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, and the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of State (Sport), issued the following statement on the presentation of the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award to Colette Bourgonje, Canadian Paralympic athlete, at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games Closing Ceremony yesterday. Endo Takayuki of Japan was the other recipient of the award.

"Congratulations to Colette Bourgonje on receiving the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award," said Minister Moore. "This award not only represents sport excellence, but also tells the world that you exemplify the spirit of the Games. The 2010 Paralympic Winter Games highlighted the incredible achievements of our Canadian Paralympians and celebrated their contributions to the world of sport. Colette, you have inspired Canadians and moved the world."

"Canada is proud of all its Canadian athletes," said Minister of State Lunn. "During the last 10 days, Canadians from coast to coast to coast have experienced our athletes' human spirit, mental and physical strength, and relentless determination. You represent the very best and are an enormous source of pride for all Canadians."

Ms. Bourgonje was born in Saskatoon and now resides in Canmore, Alberta. She began her athletic career competing in national competitions in cross-country running. After a car accident in 1980 that paralyzed her from the waist down, she switched her focus to wheelchair racing. She won two bronze medals in wheelchair racing at the Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games, the same year she made her Winter Paralympic debut in cross-country sit-skiing at the Tignes-Albertville 1992 Paralympic Winter Games. She won two silver medals in cross-country ski events at the Nagano 1998 Paralympic Winter Games, which launched her into the record books as a repeat medallist in both the Summer and Winter Games. Among other honours, Ms. Bourgonje was named Saskatoon Athlete of the Year in 1996 and was inducted into the Saskatoon Sport Hall of Fame. She has competed in nine Paralympic Games.

The Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award is named after South Korean Dr. Whang Youn Dai, a foremost advocate for persons with disabilities for more than 50 years. She devoted her life to the development of Paralympic sport around the world.

At the 1988 Paralympic Summer Games in Seoul, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) established the award in recognition of her life-long contribution to the Paralympic Movement. Since then, this award has been presented at every Paralympic Games to one male and one female athlete.

The award was presented at the Closing Ceremony by Dr. Whang Youn Dai and the President of the IPC, Sir Philip Craven.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage
    and Official Languages
    Matthew Deacon - Press Secretary
    Office of the Honourable Gary Lunn, P.C., M.P.
    Minister of State (Sport)
    Vanessa Schneider - Director of Communications