Buncy and Raj Pagely

Buncy and Raj Pagely

Saanich Commonwealth Games family to reunite at PISE celebration

Saturday event marks 20 years since the 1994 Commonwealth Games kicked off in Greater Victoria

Twenty years after the 1994 Commonwealth Games changed the face of Saanich, Buncy and Raj Pagley are still fielding phone calls from some of the 15,000 volunteers they worked with during that time.

The married couple led the Commonwealth Nations program, which sprouted a series of grassroots events during the three-year build to the Games as the community was buzzing with anticipation.

“There were some very big gatherings long before the Games started,” Buncy said. “We had thousands come to the opening of Commonwealth Place.”

One of the couple’s many initiatives was arranging a team of 66 flag bearers to represent the Commonwealth countries at lead-up celebrations, including Prince Edward’s visit in March 1994 to open Saanich Commonwealth Place.

Fittingly, it will be Buncy and Raj bearing the Canadian and B.C. flags on Saturday for the opening ceremony of the 20th anniversary reunion of the 1994 Commonwealth Games, taking place at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence.

More than 5,000 people are expected to attend the reunion, signifying the lasting impact the Games have had on Saanich and the Greater Victoria community.

The opening ceremony starts at 3 p.m.

“With the reunion coming, I’ve been getting calls from the 1994 flag bearers, they’re calling me now instead of the other way around. And they’re telling me about how their children have grown up,” Buncy said.

Back in 1992, the Pagelys and Buncy’s sisters, Ajeat Hoon and Bindo Lalari, were the first to receive the coveted volunteer pin for 100 hours served.

“We were proud to wear that pin, a lot of hours went into the events and the timing of the events,” Buncy said. “It was a new initiative for the Commonwealth Games to promote multiculturalism.”

There were so many events during the three-year run prior to ‘94 that designated flag bearers weren’t always available.

In those cases, someone from outside the Commonwealth, such as Mexico or Germany, stepped to incorporate as many cultures and nations as possible.

Of course, the Opening Ceremony of the Games stands out as a highlight amongst Buncy’s many great memories, as Centennial Stadium was brimful with 50,000 spectators. But those moments were nearly four years in the making, a movement built by 15,000 volunteers.

Saturday’s 20th anniversary celebration will also recognize Saanich Commonwealth Place, which stands out as a major physical legacy from the Games.

It’s sure to be a topic of conversation this weekend for two of the people behind its creation, former Saanich Mayor Murray Coell and current Mayor Frank Leonard, a Saanich councillor at the time.

“Coell and I were trying to get a new Saanich recreation pool built in Royal Oak,” Leonard said.

“It was part of my platform when I joined council in 1986. I was actually trying to put the pool near the Broadmead shopping centre and fortunately, it was defeated.”

Politicians at the time knew a 50-metre pool needed to be erected for the Games, and it was down to two other concepts: a revamp of Crystal Gardens in downtown Victoria to reinstate its swimming grandeur from 100 years ago, or an upgrade to a facility at the University of Victoria.

“People wiser than me came up with the idea to combine a leisure pool with a competitive swimming pool,” Leonard said. “(But) it was volunteers who gave the Games their pulse.”

reporter@saanichnews.com

SATURDAY’S SCHEDULE

  • The 20th Anniversary of the XV Commonwealth Games takes place Saturday, Aug. 23 at PISE, 4371 Interurban Rd.
  • 3 to 5 p.m. – ’94 Games Memorabilia and outdoor activities including adapted sports, physical literacy obstacle course for kids and a meet and play with Canada’s Women’s Rugby Team, and the Victoria Highlanders FC
  • 4 p.m. – Ground Breaking Ceremony, PISE Track Project
  • 4:45 p.m. – Official Photograph of 1994 Games Volunteers
  • 5:30 p.m. – Governor General Caring Canadian Awards: in recognition of the organizers, volunteers and Athletes of the 1994 Games
  • 6:30 p.m. – Reunion reception for Games Volunteers

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

February 17, 2021 - Kaelyn (L) and Costin Campbell are Goldstream News Gazette 2021 Local Heroes.
Pint-sized duo inspires others to be green

Costin and Kaelyn Campbell are this year’s Environmental Heroes

Erin Oldman received a scholarship through Royal Roads University (RRU), called the Legacy Award, which is given out once every five years. Oldman graduated from RRU with a Masters of Arts in Human Security and Peacebuilding, and is using the award to establish a charity called International Humanitarian Assessments, which helps people in war-torn areas of the Middle East. (Photo contributed by Erin Oldman)
Royal Roads University graduate receives $25,000 award

Erin Oldman will use the award to establish a charity in the Middle East

Sandy Carmichael is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Seniors’ Champion. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Worker bee returns to volunteer: Sandy Carmichael a fixture at Langford Royal Canadian Legion

Sandy Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Seniors’ Champion Award

SD 62 (Sooke) has announced a COVID-19 exposure at David Cameron Elementary in Colwood. Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24. (Black Press Media File).
COVID-19 exposure at Colwood’s David Cameron Elementary

Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Central Saanich has received funding for a new multi-use pathway that promises to improve access to Butchart Gardens. (Black Press Media File)
Central Saanich receives grant for multi-use pathway to Butchart Gardens

Province funds entirety of $322,800 project through economic recovery grant program

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic oportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Dasher is back home with mom Christine Girvin thanks to some help from BC Ferries staff. Photo supplied
The cat came back, with help from BC Ferries staff

After Dasher made a dash, staff in Comox found her and got her home safe

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Most Read