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Colette Bourgonje on the podium to receive a silver medal at the 2010 Paralympics in Vancouver. Photo by Kevin Bogetti-Smith.

School named after Education alumna Colette Bourgonje

One of six new schools in the Saskatoon will be named after College Bourgonje, a graduate from the College of Education and 10-time Paralympic athlete.

The Saskatoon Board of Education has chosen the names for the four new public elementary schools in Saskatoon. The names are:
• Sylvia Fedoruk School – new school in Evergreen
• Ernest Lindner School – new school in Hampton Village
• Colette Bourgonje School – new school in Rosewood
• Chief Whitecap School – new school in Stonebridge

“Sylvia Fedoruk was not only a pioneering female physicist, but also a selfless community advocate and successful athlete. Ernest Lindner is the father of arts education in Saskatoon Public Schools and a nationally recognized artist. Colette Bourgonje is the epitome of perseverance, having won 10 Paralympic medals and completing much of her training while a teacher with Saskatoon Public Schools. Chief Whitecap was one of the founders of Saskatoon and now, along with John Lake School, both founders are rightfully honoured,” said Morrison, Saskatoon Public School Board Chair.

Colette Bourgonje - Biography

Colette Bourgonje is a 10-time Paralympic athlete and a former teacher with Saskatoon Public Schools. Bourgonje, who is Métis, won 10 Paralympic medals during her competitive career. She won six medals in Para-Nordic skiing, including a silver and bronze at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics when she was the first Canadian to win a Paralympic medal on home soil. Bourgonje competed as a wheelchair racer during three Summer Paralympics, winning two bronze medals at both the 1992 Barcelona Paralympics and the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics.

In the spring of 1980, Bourgonje was 18 and ready to graduate from Grade 12 when she was injured in a vehicle accident near her hometown of Porcupine Plain. That fall, she became the first physically disabled student to enroll in the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Physical Education. Four years later, she was the first disabled student to graduate from the college and the first female student in a wheelchair to graduate from a physical education program at any Canadian university. She followed up with a Bachelor of Education degree from the U of S.

From 1989 to 2010, Bourgonje worked for Saskatoon Public Schools as an elementary physical education and classroom teacher on a half-time basis, while continuing her training and competition schedule. Bourgonje worked at Silverwood Heights, Prince Philip, Brunskill, Lakeview and Fairhaven schools before turning her attention to training full-time.

Bourgonje was inducted into the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame in 2010. She lives and substitute teaches part-time in the Prince Albert area. She coaches cross-country skiing to physically challenged individuals and is an advocate for being active and pursuing sport.

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