Participants of the Nanaimo Dragonboat Festival’s Breast Cancer Survivor Challenge toss carnations into the Nanaimo harbour after racing on July 9. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo Dragonboat Festival return includes survivor race, carnation ceremony

Dragonboat races return to Maffeo Sutton Park in Nanaimo after COVID-19 hiatus

With the Nanaimo Dragonboat Festival resuming this year, breast cancer survivors took part in a challenge to show solidarity and to feed their competitive drive.

The Breast Cancer Survivor Challenge took place at the waters off Maffeo Sutton Park just after noon followed by a carnation ceremony to honour survivors and those who have died. One of the participating teams was the Angels Abreast team, based out of Nanaimo. Bonita Price, team member, said the survivor race is a good way to unite all breast cancer survivors for a common goal to stay healthy.

“I think there’s a lot of people that once they have breast cancer, really don’t know what to do with their lives and all of us here found this as an outlet to be together, have common goals and stay healthy, said Price. “So that’s kind of what it’s all about.”

Lisa Marie Barron, Nanaimo-Ladysmith member of Parliament, was in attendance. She said her aunt is a survivor and dragonboating was very important in her life.

“My aunt, when she joined over 10 years ago now as a dragonboater, she just came to life,” said Barron. “You could see this fire in her, through the camaraderie … [she] was dedicated to practice after practice and it’s a huge time commitment, but the result was life-long friendships knowing that she’s not alone and increased education and awareness around what needs to be done to fight for those who are diagnosed with breast cancer.”

Mayor Leonard Krog said he was happy to see the festival back after the COVID-19 hiatus.

“Cancer impacts so many Canadians and the support that this festival needs and deserves is really important and I’m delighted that the [Fairway Gorge Paddling Club] from Victoria has chosen to come and support us here in Nanaimo to bring back the festival,” said Krog. “It’s an exciting event, it’s a celebratory event and it’s an event for a good cause.”

RELATED: Dragonboat festival raises money for hospital, cancer foundations

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reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

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