Chris Day, a firefighter with Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, displays his unique haircut at the Alberni Athletic Hall on Sept. 29 while Tour de Rock riders are welcomed to Tseshaht and Hupacasath territory. This is the 20th year police officers are undertaking the fundraising ride across Vancouver Island, and this time they’re joined by firefighters and other emergency personnel to raise money for pediatric cancer research and support programs.
The Alberni Athletic Hall was filled on the evening of Friday, Sept. 29 to mark the arrival of Tour de Rock cyclists as they made their stop in Port Alberni.
On their way to the west coast, 24 riders on the Canadian Cancer Society Cops For Cancer Tour de Rock spent the night in Port Alberni as part of their cross-island fundraising effort to support pediatric research and support for children affected by the disease. Half of the riders were RCMP members, with the remainder being other emergency personnel on the tour’s 20th year.
Nuu-chah-nulth nations contributed to the tour by hosting a dinner at the athletic hall, raising nearly $10,000 from the Sept. 29 event plus two others that were held over the summer. The Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations displayed their support by blanketing the riders after dinner was served.
During dinner Island Health’s central medical officer Dr. Paul Hasselback spoke about the prevalence of cancer for Indigenous peoples. This follows a report released in September by the First Nations Health Authority indicating that aboriginal peoples are less likely to survive cancer than the general population in British Columbia.
Cultural events energized the hall, including drumming and a paddle dance – plus a fashion show with Joyce Little’s Nuu-chah-nulth-inspired designs. Organizer Matilda Atleo thanks all of those who contributed and hopes that the Nuu-chah-nulth communities can hold another event to support Tour de Rock next year.