Prince Albert Paralympic athlete Brittany Hudak added to her award list on Tuesday when Mayor Greg Dionne presented her with the City of Prince Albert’s Award of Merit.
Dionne made the presentation at a ceremony during the Inclusive Playground Program Day at the JumpStart playground outside Alfred Jenkins Field House. Hudak, a lifelong resident of Prince Albert, won bronze medals in Women’s Individual Standing Biathlon and Cross Country Skiing Long Distance Classic Standing races at the 2022 Beijing Paralympic Games held in March. Hudak has represented Canada in three Paralympic Games now, and has a total of three medals.
“I have had so much support from the City of Prince Albert and it’s always such an honour to come back,” Hudak said. “I just feel like I am so well supported in my hometown. You never know after you move away if you will still be recognized.”
Hudak said she was truly honoured to receive the City’s Award of Merit. The award is presented at the direction of City Council to citizens who bring special honour to the community at large through their accomplishments.
“We are over 100 years old and you are getting (award number) 226 so we don’t give these out freely,” Dionne told Hudak during the presentation. “It is just to acknowledge you and all that you did for the City of PA.”
Councillors Don Cody and Dawn Kilmer joined Dionne at the ceremony. Dionne said it’s incredible that Prince Albert has an Olympian, and added that they were proud to present the award.
Dionne also thanked Hudak’s parents, as well as Bruce Vance of the City of Prince Albert for getting her to attend despite a busy schedule.
“We were glad that you were able to take the time and come in, because we are proud and of course we are standing in a facility that is made for everybody,” Dionne told her.
Hudak is recognized as achieving individual and community distinction through her pursuit of excellence, endurance and persistence. She said that she was very proud to be from Prince Albert, and was impressed with the new facilities.
“I’m always astounded with the facilities that are being created and that we have and how much of a sense of community it creates,” she said. “That’s the one thing you notice: the people are really what make this town so great. It’s just amazing to come back and feel that sense of community and support all of the time.”
Hudak presented former employer Malcolm Jenkins of Canadian Tire with a race bib when the facility opened . Jenkins was instrumental in getting facilities like the Jumpstart Playground built, and Hudak said that’s vital for the community.
“Coming here to this facility is really important to me because inclusivity is something that I am passionate about,” she explained. “I feel that the outdoors and everything should just be accessible to all, and that is how I feel about the Paralympics as well.
“This is how it starts, with facilities and playgrounds, (and) then things being accessible to everyone. That’s sometimes where the dreams can start. This is an amazing spot to receive the award.”
Hudak also presented a race bib to Dionne and the City of Prince Albert as a token of her affection for the community.
“I competed in six races in Beijing and it’s just nice to be able to give something back that kind of has a bit of significance,” she explained. “There are only so many race bibs at the games that athletes receive, so it’s kind of a nice exchange for an award.
Hudak took time away from National Team Training in Canmore, Albert to attend the Inclusive Playground Program event today at the Field House. She said her training has been going well and is now somewhat normal after it was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The team began the training year in June with two weeks in Bend, Oregon. They’ll travel to New Zealand for three weeks in August for more training, then head to Mammoth Lakes, California in September.
“Our training is really full on and it’s the first year of another quadrennial before we get into the 2026 games,” Hudak said.
Hudak has been based out of Canmore since 2015. The city houses a training centre for cross country skiers and biathletes.
“I mean it’s funny how fast the time goes,” she said. “I have already been there seven years. It’s another nice community for athletes for sure.”
The Inclusive Playground Day program session is part of the summer Playground Program. It’s specifically for children with ability challenges, and uses specially designed equipment on the JumpStart Playground.
Hudak said it was important to have the award presentation at the playground, since that’s where potential Olympians can find inspiration. She also took time to show off her medals to children in attendance for the day.
“Sometimes that dream starts on the playground or you see somebody and ask them, ‘where did you get those medals?’” she said. “It does inspire people, I think, seeing what you can achieve through sport and just the opportunities that are also available through sport.
“I started traveling the world. Competing internationally for Canada through sport has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. You never know when that dream can spark.”
On Monday, Hudak and representatives from the City toured the community and went to Little Red River Park. Hudak said that the ski trails are some of the best she has ever skied on. She also continued the tour on Tuesday with more stops in and around the community.