Opening Our Minds and Filling Our Hearts


June 1st, 2021

I don’t think I have ever felt as proud to be associated with our Sports Hall — to be a Trustee and a stakeholder — than I was on the morning of Tuesday, September 25th, 2018.

That fall day marked the launch of our new Indigenous Sport Gallery, the worthy successor to our original Aboriginal Sport Gallery created in 2008 and a notable elevation in our long-standing commitment to telling the compelling stories of the many indigenous athletes, coaches and sport leaders who have woven themselves into the rich and layered fabric of sport history, heritage and culture of British Columbia and the First Nations that preceded it.

It was of course a proud day for the indigenous communities the new Gallery represented. It was an emotional release for all those honoured that day and every day since. It was a showcase for stories of triumph over adversity. And it was a shining moment for the practice of storytelling; the social art of passing on stories from generation to generation, perfected over thousands of years by indigenous peoples here and around the world.

There were plenty of tears. Yet the prevailing sentiments were pride and joy. It rubbed off on all of us who were present that day. And that is why it was such a special day for the BC Sports Hall of Fame and for all of us who have the privilege of being involved with the Hall, our Inducted Members and all those featured in our galleries, exhibits and displays.

That day reminded us of our fundamental contribution to BC; as storytellers and custodians of the people, artifacts, photographs and documents that tell these extraordinary stories; that help us honour the past and inspire the future. It gave us a clearer sense of purpose, not only in support of indigenous athletes, coaches, leaders and communities, but in support of all British Columbians and Canadians who are part of this province’s history.

That responsibility is only heightened among those communities and audiences who have not always received their just credit for what they do to make our province and our country what it is; including girls and women, new Canadians, para-athletes and others whose stories deserve to be told…whose stories need to be told.

As proud a day as September 25th, 2018 was; we left the festivities knowing that we could and should do even more to ensure these stories are always protected and never forgotten.

That’s the overwhelming sense that I have today, almost three years later, in a province and a country dealing with the tragic discovery of 215 children who never had the chance to own their destiny and realize their dreams.

The unsettling findings of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc at the former Kamloops Residential School are more than a disturbing reminder of past injustices. They are a troubling example of stories that need to be told so as to ensure they — and nothing remotely close to them — ever happen again, in BC, in Canada, or anywhere in the world.  They raise the imperative of ensuring that every other lost child is found and accounted for so as to never be forgotten.

And for all of us at the BC Sports Hall of Fame, it is a challenge, an opportunity and a recognition that we can do more and we can do better; that we can be positive change agents in helping to build a better British Columbia and a stronger Canada; that we can make storytelling an essential part of sports and our larger society. That we can do our part to share information, create knowledge and inspire us to be the best British Columbians and Canadians that we can be.

We will continue to do that on the strength of our Indigenous Sport Gallery. We will do it through our community outreach and Hero In You, including the curriculum that we will share this fall in telling the incredible story that is Terry Fox, British Columbian, Canadian and Métis Canadian. We will do so by inspiring others to find their own stories to share.

No doubt, few stories can be as sad and as troubling as the news out of Kamloops last week. Yet they are so important because they provide powerful context to how far we’ve come and — most important — how far we still have to go.

Tom Mayenknecht is the Chair of the BC Sports Hall of Fame. A principal at Emblematica Brand Builders in Vancouver and a nationally-recognized sport business commentator and founder and host of The Sport Market sport business radio show, he is a strong advocate for KidSport, Right To Play and other children’s charities. He is also a member of the Ringette Canada Hall of Fame as a builder and Chair of the Paul Carson Sports Broadcast & Media Awards.