Communities in Atlantic Canada are well known for their openness, their hospitality and their helpfulness. That’s especially true in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re from in Newfoundland & Labrador, everyone is super supportive and friendly,” says 26-year-old Kippens native Katarina Roxon. “If you need help with something, there’ll be a Newfoundlander or Labradorian there right away. I’m very proud of the fact that I’m from here.”
And Newfoundlanders & Labradorians are proud of her. People across her home province have been supporting Katarina throughout her Para swimming career.
Her life in the pool started because her parents thought swimming was a good life skill for kids to have, especially kids living on an island. Though she was born missing her left arm below her elbow, swimming was something she enjoyed right away. Katarina and her sister Miranda both joined the local swim team and started competing in meets.
Your support is making it possible for Atlantic Canadians with a disability to participate in sport.
Katarina’s Para swimming career started to take off - and it’s been a great career so far.
At age 15, Katarina was the youngest Canadian swimmer on the Beijing 2008 Paralympic team.
At the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Katarina’s hard work paid off. She won a gold medal – her first – in 100-metre breaststroke, setting a Canadian record time in the process.
As she stood atop the podium, she thought about home. As the first notes of O Canada were played, Katarina’s emotions started bubbling to the surface.
“I told myself “I’m going to make it through it. I’m going to sing the anthem so proudly,” she recalls. “I think I made it through the first line and then I just broke down crying. It’s an emotional feeling.”
The anthem represented her home. It represented the hard work she puts in every day in Stephenville, a tiny town on Newfoundland’s west coast, just a bridge away from her Kippens home. It represented the countless well-wishes she received from people all over the province.
“It’s emotional singing O Canada because you’re not singing it for yourself, you’re singing it for your country and all of the people who supported you.”
Katarina’s sights are firmly set on representing Canada again at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games – and on being able to sing the anthem again.
“When you sing O Canada, it brings you back home. It brings you a sense of comfort and pride.”
You can help ensure athletes like Katarina can access sport in Atlantic Canada.