One of Tofino’s most famous residents has received one of the community’s most prestigious honours.
Brendan Morrison became Tofino’s latest Volunteer Recognition Award recipient on Nov. 10.
The former NHL star was recognized for launching the Tofino Saltwater Classic, a popular annual fishing derby that has raised over $575,000 for local community initiatives since its launch in 2009.
“The Saltwater Classic has been my favourite event to volunteer in and I believe it has been such an incredible blessing to our community,” said Tofino’s acting mayor Britt Chalmers.
“While Brendan Morrison may only be a part-time resident in Tofino, he wholly understands the needs of our community and has selflessly used his abilities and his influences, combined with one of his passions, to create an event that benefits so many parts of our community.”
Morrison will receive a framed certificate and his named will be added to Tofino’s volunteer wall of fame next to the Village Green.
“This is very, very humbling and very unexpected…I don’t see this as a personal award at all, it is a total team effort,” Morrison said. “I’m very humbled by this. It’s a team award, it’s not an individual award. Events like this don’t happen without contributions from many people, so I’ll accept this award on behalf of everybody who has contributed in some fashion to the Tofino Saltwater Classic since it’s inception.”
Morrison said the community has consistently stepped up to support the event, from the local businesses that donate prizes, the residents who put in vital volunteer hours and the participants who make the event a success each year. This year’s event was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but participants were asked to continue their support of the Saltwater Classic’s long list of beneficiaries by donating through its website at www.tofinosaltwaterclassic.com.
Morrison said the Saltwater Classic started off as an idea he and then-principal of Wickaninnish Community School Brad Dusseault began batting around in 2007.
“We were trying to come up with some type of event that could raise money to benefit the community and, more to the point, the grassroots programs of the community and the leaders of the future,” he said.
He explained that the derby officially rolled out in 2009 with 62 participants in its first year.
“We thought that was a huge success, we were thrilled,” he said adding the Classic now sells out each year with roughly 125 participants. “It’s been amazing really and again this doesn’t happen without a great team.”
Beneficiaries of the event’s impressive fundraising success have included Wickaninnish Community School, Tofino Hospital Foundation, Raincoast Education Society, Tofino’s parks and recreation department and the Tofino Volunteer Fire Department.
“I would suggest the measure of a person should be based not on what they acquire in this lifetime but rather what they give. Brendan Morrison and his family have certainly exemplified this axiom through the manner in which they have supported the West Coast,” Wickaninnish Community School principal Drew Ryan told the Westerly News. “Wickaninnish Community School has received generous donations from Brendan Morrison’s Saltwater Classic since its inception in 2009. Without these yearly donations our Healthy School Meals Program would certainly be a shadow of what it has become.”
Ryan noted that the program now has its own school chef and provides fresh baked goods and daily snacks of fruits, vegetables and protein throughout the week and induces “smiling faces all-around.”
“On top of the simple fact that the donations from the Saltwater Classic directly nourish students there’s the physical and social-emotional nourishment that Brendan and his family have helped foster in our school community. A perfect example of this is the enjoyment and exercise students and families receive when joining in on Brendan’s pick-up hockey games as a lead up to the start of the Saltwater Classic,” he said. “We are privileged to count Brendan and his family as part of our school community and he certainly deserves the honour of the [Volunteer Recognition Award].”
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