Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 19, 2007
Oblate devoted to X-country skiing
- Photo by Bishop Gary Gordon
Fr. Jean-Marie Mouchet is interviewed following a ski around Mt. McIntyre at the Canada Winter Games.
By MICHAEL DOUGHERTY
Special to the WCR
Prior to the Canada Winter Game's 1,200-metre cross-country sprint races at the improvised Mt. McIntyre ski stadium in Whitehorse March 6, a couple of hundred ski enthusiasts and friends of Oblate Father Jean-Marie Mouchet gathered.
They were there to honour the nearly 90-year-old priest's life long service to northern youth and cross-country skiing.
Love of the outdoors
A member of the Order of Canada and a Chevalier de l'ordre National du Merite of France, this well honoured Oblate priest arrived in the Canadian North in 1946.
From his hometown of Malbuisson, France, on the Swiss border to First Nations communities such as Telegraph Creek in northern British Columbia and Old Crow, Yukon, he brought a love of the outdoors and a deep concern for the many challenges faced by traditional communities in the last half century.
He crafted the Territorial Experimental Ski Training (TEST) program in the 1950s to build not only strong bodies but as well self-confidence and pride.
The program produced national champions like Martha Benjamin of Old Crow, Olympians like Sharon and Shirley Firth from Inuvik, N.W.T., and more than two generations of youth who strove to reach their potential.
After testimonials from former TEST athletes and friends Mouchet told the crowd "It's the people of the North, Old Crow, Whitehorse and other communities that produced me. It was not the other way around."
He then was invited to ski a ceremonial lap of the Mt. McIntyre cross-country ski sprint track.
As Mouchet glided around the course on his new canary yellow skis, the crowd there to honour his lifelong contributions to youth and cross-country skiing in the North clanged their cow bells and cheered him on to the finish line where cameras and reporters awaited him.