Colette Bourgonje is an elite two sport athlete (para-nordic skiing, and wheelchair athletics) of Métis heritage, who has competed internationally and excelled over 22 years at seven winter Paralympics (1992, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014), and three summer Paralympics (1992, 1996, 2000). In total, she won 10 medals (7 bronze, 3 silver) at five different Paralympic Games – 1992 (2 bronze), 1996 (2 bronze), 1998 (2 silver), 2006 (2 bronze) and 2010 (silver and bronze). Only five of 136 Olympians worldwide (up to 2016) who competed in both the summer and winter Olympics have ever won medals in both events. Her silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics was the first Paralympic medal won by a Canadian at home. At Vancouver’s closing ceremony, Bourgonje received the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award, given to two athletes, a male and a female at the Paralympics, who conquered adversities though the pursuit of excellence in sport. She also won gold medals in World Cup competitions in 2010 and 2011, to add to her two gold International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Cup victories in 1998 and 2005.
To learn more about Colette and the school that carries her name click below
Here's Colette explaining her parasport journey
Colette was also featured in a Nish Media documentary series called "Pursuing the Flame," view the trailer here
Bourgonje worked from 1989 to 2010 as an elementary physical education and classroom teacher while training and competing, and then went on to substitute part time in the Prince Albert area. Just as physical activity had made an impact in her life, she wanted to do the same with her students. Therefore, throughout her teaching career, she has set aside a large part of the day to be physically active.
She taught the students cross country skiing, held fall camps at a local camp named Blue Mountain and she continuously took the students on various field trips. In terms of cross-country skiing, she was able to obtain used skiing equipment for both the students and teachers to use and enjoy as a sport they may not have tried otherwise. Bourgonje is also fixated on good sportsmanship with her students and her goal with the children was to have them enjoy sports and remain active. For both sports and life, Bourgonje is adamant about self-improvement through goals. She teaches the children: “you set a goal and once you get there, you set another goal”
In 1997, a sign was made for her home community of Porcupine Plain, promoting it as Colette’s town and noting all of the medals she had earned. Bourgonje was overwhelmed and honoured when the public school board in Saskatoon decided to name an elementary school after her. Those who chose her name for the school believed she represented strength and power There is also a children’s book that was published inspired by Colette. The book’s objective is for children to understand others’ perspectives, especially for those living with a disability.
Here is a feature on Colette from the Canadian Paralympic Committee entitled "Milestones of Champions"