by Alex Rinfret–BC Ferries’s decision to yank the Queen of Prince Rupert from service for the next week has dashed the dreams of a young volleyball team from Queen Charlotte Secondary.
The junior girls volleyball team – 10 dedicated grade 8 and 9 students who have been practising since September – lost the chance to play in the zone championships in Terrace because they couldn’t afford to fly home instead of taking the ferry, as they had planned.
The team had reservations on the Thursday night ferry and was going to return to the islands Monday Nov. 20. But just two days before they were supposed to leave, principal Angus Wilson heard a rumour that the ferry might be going out of service. After getting a “vague confirmation” from BC Ferries, he had to break the bad news to the team.
“At lunchtime I had to call a meeting and tell all the girls that there likely wouldn’t be any trip,” he said.
Then the phone calls began. Mr. Wilson, parents and the girls themselves called BC Ferries, the premier’s office, the Minister of Education and anyone else they thought might help. But it didn’t work. BC Ferries held firm on its position that it would not pay for plane tickets for passengers affected by the service suspension.
The school district and Queen Charlotte Secondary scraped together enough money to allow nine members of the senior girls volleyball team to attend the zone championship in Terrace. They took the ferry Thursday night as planned, and will fly home on Sunday afternoon from Prince Rupert. But there was not enough money to allow the junior girls team to do the same thing.
“No one likes to see a bunch of grade 8 or 9 girls’ dreams dashed,” Mr. Wilson said. “They worked really hard.”
Team member Jennifer Friesen, a grade 8 student, said the students were extremely disappointed that they weren’t able to participate in the tournament, which they had been looking forward to for the whole season.
Another team member, Ayanna Rhindress, said it was going to be their first opportunity to play off-island.
“I called Premier Gordon Campbell’s office,” Ayanna said. “I was a little annoyed… They said they couldn’t do anything.”
Ayanna thinks BC Ferries should have given the team plane tickets.
Grade 8 student Kelsey Lore said it was tough to find out that BC Ferries and the other agencies they called were not prepared to help them.
“The most disappointing thing was how everybody turned us down,” she said.
The girls’ volleyball season is now officially over.
Mr. Wilson said a university tour to UNBC in Prince George was also affected by the ferry service suspension. The students on this trip were booked out on a ferry which was cancelled, although their return reservation is fine. Now the 14 students will be flying off-island, thanks to a cash injection from the Gwaii Trust and some extra money contributed by the students themselves.
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