Stittsville resident makes it to the Paralympics

(Collinda Joseph of Stittsville will represent Canada in Wheelchair Curling at the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing, China. Photo: Accessibility Standards Canada/Stittsville Central)

Collinda Joseph of Stittsville, will be competing for Canada in wheelchair curling at the Beijing Paralympic Winter Games, between March 4-13, 2022.

Every member of Canada’s Wheelchair Curling team is training hard to make this happen, despite the need to sometimes practise alone with social distancing. “We’re always talking strategy online, but we’re often by ourselves for on-ice skills,” Collinda laughs. “But our biggest challenge right now is making sure we stay COVID-free so we can get on the plane!” There are some bright sides to this training method, however, as having the rink at the RA Centre to herself allows for great focus during practice. She also appreciates its accessibility features, which she says are always beneficial to her and her fellow Paralympians. It lets them concentrate on their sport without worrying about whether or not they will be able to access the rink.

Becoming an official Paralympic athlete has been an exciting process for Collinda. From the emotional experience of receiving her Team Canada jacket, to reading about where she will be staying in the Paralympic village, it has been both thrilling and overwhelming. “It’s a great feeling,” she says, “but a new one! I’m not sure it will feel real until I’m actually there, participating in the opening ceremonies.” But even with that surreal feeling, her and her teammates know they are ready for the games themselves. The World Championships in October taught them a lot, and showed them they could beat the best. “This time,” she notes with pride, “we’re better set up for victory. We’ve got new insights into the competition, and we have the target in sight.”

Collinda is proud of her accomplishments, but above all, she is deeply aware of the duty she’s undertaking. “The responsibility of wearing that maple leaf is massive, and I don’t want to let people down. I understand and appreciate that significance every day, and I want to be sure to fully take in every moment at the Paralympics, so I can be sure I don’t forget it.” From the atmosphere of the games, to the opportunity to talk to other Paralympians, Collinda is finally feeling that her dream of competing in this event is becoming a reality.

Outside of the game itself, what motivates her is her support group. Thinking about the help and encouragement she’s received from the Stittsville community brings tears to her eyes. “I want to thank my family and friends across Stittsville for everything, for all the support. Every one of them has been really important on my journey, and I know I wouldn’t have made it without them.” She also thanked her work teammates and managers at Accessibility Standards Canada for helping her be comfortable with her goals outside the office, and lending a hand where they could. Collinda felt the full weight of the emotion as she finished talking about it, with the apt description that “all the support from the community feels like getting a massive hug!”

She is looking forward to representing Canada and her hometown on the international stage of the Paralympics. “It’s an exciting time, but most of all I feel proud to have made it here, and thankful to those that helped me along the way.”

To watch and support Wheelchair Curling Team Canada in the Paralympics, being played in the National Aquatics Centre – known as the Ice Cube, tune into your favourite Canadian sports broadcaster from March 5-12.

The schedule for the Wheelchair Curling Roundrobin games is as follows:

March 5: Canada vs. China 2:35 p.m. / Canada vs. Switzerland 7:35 p.m. 
March 6: Canada vs. Latvia 2:35 p.m. 
March 7: Canada vs. USA 9:35 a.m. / Canada vs. Sweden 7:35 p.m. 
March 8: Canada vs. South Korea 9:35 a.m. / Canada vs. Slovakia 7:35 p.m. 
March 9: Canada vs. Great Britain 2:35 p.m. / Canada vs. Estonia 7:35 p.m. 
March 10: Canada vs. Norway 9:35 a.m. / Canada vs. RPC 2:35 p.m.

On Friday 11 March, the semi-finals will be played at 2:35 with 2v3 and 1v4 facing off. The bronze medal game will be played after the semi-finals, at 7:35 pm. The gold medal game will be on Saturday 2:35 pm.

For more information on Accessibility Standards Canada, visit their website at: https://accessible.canada.ca/.

(Canada’s Wheelchair Curling Paralympic team will be represented by: Ina Forrest, Spallumcheen, BC; Dennis Thiessen, Crystal City, MB; Collinda Joseph, Stittsville, ON; Jon Thurston, Dunsford, ON; and Mark Ideson, London, ON. Photo: Canadian Paralympic Committee)

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