10 years ago this month, Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs and Seabird Island cemented their places in athletics history.
Feb. 7, 2020 marked the 10th anniversary of the running of the Olympic torch from Merrit to Abbotsford through Agassiz and Seabird Island. Ten years ago on the 7th marked day 101 of the 106-day route across Canada, heralding the coming of the 2010 Winter Olympics to Vancouver.
Laurens van Vliet, award-winning skier, avid cyclist and longtime resident of Agassiz, remembered the event as a unique, incredible experience.
“It was quite an honour to be a part of that,” van Vliet said. He remembered the relay being a huge event with downtown Agassiz full to the brim with people, including friends from far away places who came to town just to cheer him on.
He said the selection process to be a runner for the Olympic torch was rigorous. Those interested had to fill out an application in addition to writing an essay advocating athleticism and the importance of living an active life.
Two local torchbearers hailed from Seabird Island – Brooke Bobb-Reid and Chanea Gabriel. Bobb-Reid was 16 years old at the time, and Chanea Gabriel was 18. Seabird Island elder Richard Louie was invited to bless the flame.
“I think the flame should represent unity, working together, peace and happiness,” Louie told the Observer at the time.
The Seabird Island community nominated both Bobb-Reid and Gabriel, seeing them as shining examples of their communities. At the time, Bobb-Reid was a competitive canoe puller who participated in the Indigenous Games while maintaining A-honours status as a student. Gabriel was also highly involved in her school and was a passionate pow wow dancer, going out of her way to teach children to dance as well.
Bobb-Reid said it was an honour to represent her community, the youth in particular, during the ceremonial run.
Recruitment for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay is closed.