Moose Factory youth to carry Olympic torch

Posted: January 12, 2010

By James Benson

Reproduced with permission. Originally published in SEVEN Magazine, December 11, 2009, Volume 2, No. 8.

Tyrone Trapper standing in front of the Hildebrand Chapel
in Caronport, Sask.
Wishes made on distant stars can come true.

At least that’s what 18-year-old Tyrone Trapper learned this year. The teen was recently selected over thousands of Canadian hopefuls to run the Olympic Torch toward its final destination: the 2010 Winter Olympics that will be held in Vancouver, B.C., this coming February.

After months of collecting bottle caps and entering his pin codes online, Trapper says he one day received an email from telling him that he had been selected to be one of Canada’s torch bearers.

“When I told my family, they were surprised,” he said. But he didn’t really believe it was true.

“I didn’t believe this was true until I received a call from a representative from the Coca-cola company who needed some paper documentation from me to confirm my participation,” said the Waskaganish Cree Nation band member who was born and raised in Moose Factory then later moved to Caronport, Sask., where he is currently attending high school. Trapper says his coming involvement in this once in a lifetime opportunity has not really hit home—until now.

“The torch is probably about four or five pounds,” said Trapper, adding that he will be alternating the carriage of the torch with eight other torch bearers for their leg of the journey, which spans an estimated distance of 300 metres between Lloydminster and Edmonton, Alta.

“If it was just me it would be crazy,” he laughed, referring to the lead-weight that torch would become while running along the TransCanada highway in the dead of winter. “I was told that we will be taking turns.”

Tyrone, who is already involved in many sports activities at his campus says he’s been working out in preparation for this opportunity.

“I’ve been doing a lot of training which I do on my school spares,” he said. “Usually 40 to 50 minutes of workout training. It will be a huge and great opportunity to do it.”

His mom, Laura, chuckles and says, “I remember he asked me back in February that he wanted to do this. I just laughed and thought he was just joking around. I told him, ‘It’s up to you.’” Not to long after, Laura said Tyrone came up to her and said, ’Mom, I got selected.’

“It’s rare that you see a First Nations youth do this,” she said. After receiving confirmation about his selection, she told her son he was making history.

“This flame has been going for so long, and you’re gonna be part of it and will be making history,” she said “I told him I’m proud of him for going this far.”

Laura says that as word spread throughout her family, she decided to make a Facebook group. “So far it has over 700 people who have become friends,” she said.

Laura has much to be thankful for. Being a single mother and having raised four children on her own was not always easy.

‘“This is why I left the reserve, I told my children you can get up and go in life.” she said, noting that when she left her community, she had no idea where she was going to be going. Her first choice was Alberta then ended up in Regina before finally settling in Caronport, Sask. As word continues to spread about Tyrone’s upcoming relay run, he has already been featured on a radio talk show based in Moose Jaw, Sask.

“I just hope [Ty’s experience] opens the eyes of our youth back home,” said Laura.

Tyrone, a born-again Christian, doesn’t worry about being credited for his achievements.

“When I do my run, I don’t want to dedicate it to myself, but to God my personal Saviour for giving me this opportunity to do this run. Also, there have been a lot of suicides happening in Moose Factory recently, I’d like to dedicate my run to them and for my people as well.”

After graduating from high school in the fall, Tyrone plans to attend Briercrest College and Seminary in Caronport, Sask.