On Saturday, December 16th, the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association’s (CWSA) year-long 70-50-40 anniversary celebration culminated with a formal gala at the Westin Hotel Ottawa.
The 70-50-40 event marked three major milestones in the history of wheelchair sports in Canada: 70 years since the first activity in wheelchair sport started at Deer Lodge Rehabilitation Center in Winnipeg, Manitoba, 50 years since the CWSA was officially incorporated in 1967 and 40 years since the Canadian Heritage Sport of ‘Murderball,’ or Wheelchair Rugby as it’s now known, was invented in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
To celebrate these milestones, the CWSA presented 50 Years | 50 Stories in which weekly stories profiled an individual or event in the CWSA’s history and produced a commemorative book of history and photos, “1947-2017 A History of Canadian Wheelchair Sports.”
A showcase of memorabilia and history kicked off the event enjoyed by many important contributors to the development of wheelchair sport in Canada. “I am so happy to see so many people who were members of teams, boards and committees that I have worked with and not seen for many years,” said CWSA Vice President, Laurel Crosby.
The Hall of Fame events the following evening included video and photo compilations as well as award presentations for outstanding contributions and excellence.
The Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association Hall of Fame
Seventeen athletes and fifteen builders were inducted into the CWSA Hall of Fame, honoring those individuals who have made outstanding and extraordinary contributions to the association, since it was founded in 1967.
In the Athlete Category:
In the Builder Category:
The Inaugural Class of the Canadian Wheelchair Rugby Hall of Fame
The first inductees into the newly-created Canadian Wheelchair Rugby Hall of Fame included thirteen athletes and five builders who epitomize commitment and excellence in the Canadian Heritage Sport of Wheelchair Rugby.
Inducted in the Builder Category, are the four men who created the sport of Murderball in a small rehab gym in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1977. They are Gerry Terwin, Paul LeJuene, Randy Dueck and Duncan Campbell.
Also recognized in the Builder Category is Pawel Zbieranowski. Pawel’s leadership and commitment to the growth of the sport provincially, nationally and internationally, laid the groundwork for the sport’s inclusion into the Paralympic Games.
Garett Hickling, widely recognized as the best wheelchair rugby player in the world for over a decade was inducted in the Athlete Category. Garett competed for Team Canada in every World Championship and Paralympic Games from 1995 to 2012 and in the first wheelchair rugby event held at the Parapan American Games in 2015. He was named Canadian Team Flag Bearer at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
Also recognized in the Athlete Category was Judith Zelman. Judith was the first woman to play on the Canadian National Team and one of the first of two women to compete internationally at the 1995 World Championships.
Canada’s Gold Medal winning team at the 2002 World Wheelchair Rugby Championship included 12 remarkable athletes from across Canada. They are:
|Mike Bacon, SK||Daniel Paradis, QC|
|Dany Bélanger, QC||Allan Semeniuk, SK|
|Ian Chan, BC||Patrice Simard, QC|
|Adam Frost, BC||Daryl Stubel, SK|
|David Gagné, QC||Michael Whitehead, ON|
|Garett Hickling, BC||David Willsie, ON|
“Our wheelchair sport history is now protected and archived as a result of this project and many remarkable individuals have received long overdue, and well-deserved, recognition” said CWSA CEO Catherine Cadieux.
To view images from the 70-50-40 Anniversary Event, click the image below: