Two years ago in November, during polar bear season, Churchill was the center of the universe for something other than polar bear viewing.The spirit of the Olympics.

Sure, there’s the grain port Arctic inland seaport that is supposed to become the premier link for grain export from Canada to the rest of the world. And of course the thousands of beluga whales in Summer are unmatched when it comes to a wildlife experience. And, in November we all know what takes center stage. But these are things or experiences that are  Churchill and will forever be Churchill….let’s hope anyway. What came to Churchill that November day was something so real in spirit but quite possibly unattainable in reality.

Olympic torch in churchill.

Photo: Steve Selden

On November 8, 2009 the Olympic games ceremonial torch appeared out of the snowy, frigid air on Kelsey Boulevard. One could feel the anticipation in the air as we all waited for the delayed torch to appear from the airport and into town. Once arrived, it was ushered around Churchill and down behind the town complex where the bearer boarded a tundra rover and gazed out over the Hudson bay.  Snow and cold made that morning all the more memorable though the real memory will be the feeling that came with the torch to this tiny frontier town on the Hudson bay.

Olympic torch in Churchill,MB.

Photo: Steve Selden

Innocence and purity are words that come to mind when I think of that day as I fervently followed the torch from place to place snapping photo’s with freezing fingers. I had been to the Winter Olympics of 2002 in Salt Lake City, Utah and will never forget the feeling of world unity through competition. The indescribable feeling that we are one people can be felt at the Olympic games for that far too short period of two weeks. You become isolated in a bubble of hope and belief that there is possibly a solution to countries fighting over land and ideals that does not end in war. It’s euphoric and hopeful.

I felt that again..even more-so, in the town I had spent a good amount of my life in over the past ten years- most likely because Churchill to a large extent is innocent and removed from the worldly pain that takes place each day. It is surely removed geographically …if the predominant gales were from the South instead of North, the town itself would slide across the frozen tundra and disappear into the steely Hudson Bay.  Not to say they don’t have their human turmoil like every place; but comparably Churchill is a safe haven for the most part. The torch, on that November day, became one with the town and the hope of peace and freedom in the world. It’s a feeling I cannot explain to you in adequate words ..though you would know it if you felt it. It’s the embodiment of the Olympic spirit and the hope it holds for mankind and future generations to settle disputes peacefully.

Olympic torch in Churchill, MB.

Photo: Steve Selden

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