Salmon Arm welcomed home Paralympic champion Natalie Wilkie in style on March 23 with a parade through the downtown core followed by a recognition ceremony at city hall.
The streets were brimming with excited chatter as the 11:30 a.m. mark rolled around and the Salmon Arm and Ranchero Fire Department trucks carrying Wilkie and her entourage started making their way onto the streets. As soon as she came into view, the crowd erupted in applause and cheers, thrilled to see their new hometown hero back in Salmon Arm after her eventful outing to PyeongChang for the Paralympics.
After winding its way through downtown, the convoy made its last stop in front of city hall, followed closely by a throng of supporters waving them along. Wilkie disembarked and was immediately mobbed by excited friends and family eager to get the first photo or hug from the young skier.
Mayor Nancy Cooper and Coun. Ken Jamieson then joined Wilkie, her sisters and her mother Karin Huster in front of city hall. They presented Wilkie with an honorary key to the city, a certificate of recognition for her achievements, as well as a bouquet of red and white flowers to symbolize Team Canada’s colours.
Gerry Thomas of the Neskonlith band also spoke a few words of congratulation to Wilkie on behalf of local indigenous groups, expressing pride in how she represented the community.
The 17-year-old Paralympic gold medallist now returns to life in Salmon Arm, leaving her international exploits behind her. For now, at least.