Charlotte mayor chosen to retrieve Olympic flame

  • Oct. 7, 2009 3:00 p.m.

By Heather Ramsay-Before the Olympic Games even begin, Queen Charlotte mayor Carol Kulesha has already had her gold medal moment. She was called to the podium at last week’s Union of BC Municipalities convention in Vancouver after Premier Gordon Campbell randomly drew her name as one of three mayors who will accompany him to Athens, Greece to retrieve the Olympic flame. “I’m very, very excited,” she said from her home in Queen Charlotte on Tuesday. Premier Campbell ended his speech on the last day of the conference on Oct. 2 and then brought two shopping bags out on to the stage, she said. A large one held all the names of mayors at the convention from cities larger than 5,000 people and a smaller one held the names of mayors from municipalities smaller than 5,000. Port Alberni Mayor Ken McRae’s name was pulled from the large bag and Lake Cowichan Mayor Ross Forrest’s name was pulled from the small bag, said Ms Kulesha. Then the names in the two bags were mixed together – and her name was drawn. Ms Kulesha said she jumped up right away upon hearing her name and moved towards the podium. Several people rushed to congratulate her including Minister of Healthy Living and Sport Ida Chong who was here for Queen Charlotte’s incorporation and Minister of State for Child Care Linda Reid. “It’s a tremendous honour. Here we are a town of 1,000 people,” she said marveling at the adventure she is embarking on. Ms Kulesha said the details of the trip are not completely clear, but she will fly on a Department of National Defence airplane to Athens on Oct. 29 with the premier, the other mayors, Minister of State for the Olympics Mary McNeil and Minister of Finance Colin Hansen. They will pick up the torch at the Olympic Stadium, which will have been lit on Oct. 22 and run through Greece for a few days. On Oct. 30, she and the others return to Victoria where the torch relay will begin. All in all, she will spend 36 hours on the adventure to bring the torch back to Canada. Then she has to hurry home to prepare for the celebration on the islands where the torch arrives on Nov. 3. The torch will be carried to 1,000 communities across Canada before it returns to Vancouver for the start of the games in February 2010.