Gore Bay woman chosen to compete for Canadian whitewater rafting team

Hannah Brown, a Gore Bay resident (shown in photo rear right) in competition in the world women’s whitewater rafting championships in 2015. She was recently selected to be a member of the Canadian women’s team that will be taking part in the world championships in Bosnia in May.

GORE BAY—Gore Bay resident Hannah Brown has been selected to be a member of the Canadian Women’s whitewater rafting team that will be taking part in the world championships in a couple of months.

“Yes, I was asked to join Team Canada. They contacted me about a month ago,” Ms. Brown told The Expositor. “The Canadian women’s team won the national championships on the Ottawa River in 2019, and now will be taking part in the World Championships on the Vrbas River, in Banja Luka, Bosnia in May.”

“My family moved to the Island six years ago. I was a student and was back and forth to the Island since 2017. But in May of last year, I moved with the children to live here permanently,” said Ms. Brown.

Ms. Brown is a communicative disorders (speech) assistant at Aasgaabwitwindwaa Binoojinhik Wiin ni Gshkiwewziwaat (formerly school health support services) with Naandwechige-Gamig in Wiikwemkoong. “I started working there in October.”

Ms. Brown told The Expositor, “I grew up in the Ottawa Valley and worked for the Owl White Rafting company there. I also lived in Costa Rica for 12 years and did a lot of whitewater rafting, ending up as a Costa Rica women’s team member.”

“I love outdoor adventure sports and I liked white water rafting right from the time I first tried it out,” said Ms. Brown. “It is a very exhilarating, fast-moving sport. And the best part is seeing beautiful locations like Canada, Costa Rica and China.”

“There is a small niche of people that compete in white water rafting,” said Ms. Brown. “My ex-husband was a rafting guide, and while we lived in Costa Rica, he put a team together, and we trained in Costa Rica for competitions.”

“The Canadian team won the national championship in 2019 but, due to travel restrictions because of the pandemic, the worlds were not held over the next couple of years. They won the nationals and asked me to be fifth paddler on the team,” explained Ms. Brown. 

She started paddling when she was in her 20s but didn’t start to compete in the sport until she was in her 30s. “I was able to take part in the World Cup in 2016 with the Costa Rica Women’s team where we took the bronze medal. The same year, we competed at the world championship in United Arab Emirates on a man-made course. In that competition with about 20 countries taking part, our team placed.”

The Canada team, “will be training together for the event,” said Ms. Brown. She pointed out three of the members of the team are from British Columbia, with one from the Yukon and herself. ”I have been training at Gym Fit in Mindemoya. And I do have a stand-up paddle board, and train in the marina (Gore Bay) paddling from the marina to the lighthouse and back.” And as well, when the weather allows she can be found on the south shore of Manitoulin with her surfboard or paddle boarding.

The Canada team will be on hand for the world championships, which start on May 24. “We are in the open division category. And there are four different types of races we have to take part in. The girls on our team who are from BC will be taking part in a 24-hour paddle-a-thon on March 22,” said Ms. Brown. “For every $20 that is donated through the teams’ GoFundMe page, team members will paddle 15 minutes. The team goal is to raise $8,000. I’ll contribute here, although because of the weather I wil be a rower.”

“I am a single mom,  and my family has been very supportive of me,” said Ms. Brown. “My sister and her husband (Dave Wiwchar) live in Ice Lake and my parents live in Gore Bay.”

Ms. Brown worked at Canadian Yacht Charters last summer. “My kids and I really, really love living here. It is the ideal living space, a small town and we have made friends fast.”

As of mid-week, last week, a total of $1,990 had been raised for the Canadian Raft Team of the $8,000 goal. Maris Fraser, who is organizing this fundraiser wrote, “help the Canadian women’s rafting team on its journey to the world championships in Bosnia in May, 2022. After winning the National championships in our home on the beloved Ottawa River in 2019, our sights are now set on the world championships on the Vrbas River in Banja Luka, Bosnia. This event has been twice delayed by COVID and we are excited to be bring the team back together on the world stage.”

“On March 22, our team will travel to a lake in the BC interior for our 24 hour Paddle-A-Thon,” wrote Ms. Fraser. “For every $20 you donate through our GoFundMe page, our team members will paddle 15 minutes. You will be personally responsible for keeping us paddling throughout the day and night! If we reach $7,680, that means we’ll be paddling for 24 hours straight. Funds will go towards helping with the significant travel and entrance fees costs associated with the tournament.”

To donate, head to GoFundMe.com and search for ‘Canadian raft team.’