Moving Forward

5 May 2011

Moving ForwardMoving Forward
The Journey of Paralympian Colette Bourgonje

by Mary Harelkin Bishop
Published by DriverWorks Ink
Reviewed by Cindy Wilson
$16.95 ISBN 978-0-9810394-4-2

Young people need heroes – individuals who meet life with determination and grace. It is surprising that an athlete of the stature of Colette Bourgonje, from my home province, was totally unknown to me. Colette Bourgonje has had amazing successes in her lifetime, yet I did not recognize her name.

Bourgonje’s story should be celebrated and promoted. As a teenager in her hometown of Porcupine Plain, she was a star athlete. After a devastating car accident in her final year of high school, Bourgonje became paralyzed and could no longer participate in the active sports she loved. She had been a long distance runner who excelled in volleyball, cross country running, basketball, and in track and field.

After her accident she graduated with a Bachelor of Education and a degree in Physical Education from the University of Saskatchewan. Colette had begun wheelchair racing near the end of her University career, and had done well. She was fearless and as her brother Everett said,”a bit of a daredevil”. She was never afraid of a challenge or to try new experiences or activities.

Colette started down the road to a new sense of freedom when she was able to drive again. On a ski holiday with her family she went downhill in a rudimentary sit-ski her brother had built for her with nearly disastrous results. Little did she know at that time how much a sit-ski would enrich her future; she would become the first disabled athlete in Saskatchewan to use the first sit-ski the Saskatchewan Ski Association acquired from Denmark. A sit-ski “is a chair-like mechanism on skis that has been adapted to allow the physically disabled to enjoy the sport of cross country skiing”.

From the time of her accident until her preparation for the Paralympics in March 2010 the list of Colette Bourgonje’s awards and medals easily fills two entire pages. This book will appeal to readers on several levels. It is a story about overcoming adversity. It is the story of a local woman who achieved great things. It is also a story about wonderful friendships as well as great family love and support.


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