Last year’s winners of the Tofino Saltwater Classic Shane Johnson and Morgan Ottridge flank the event’s host Brendan Morrison at the 2019 awards ceremony. The event, which has raised roughly $600,000 for local initiatives over the past decade, has been cancelled this year due to concerns around COVID-19. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

COVID-19: Brendan Morrison cuts line on 2020’s Tofino Saltwater Classic

Former Vancouver Canuck says philanthropic fishing derby placed on Long Term Injured Reserve

Brendan Morrison has placed his popular Tofino Saltwater Classic event on the Long Term Injured Reserve List.

The former NHL star announced last week that his long-running annual fishing derby, which has raised about $600,000 for organizations and initiatives in Tofino since its inception in 2009, will not run in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns.

“This wasn’t a decision taken lightly at all. There was a lot of discussion that went into it and it was tough,” Morrison told the Westerly News. “It was unsettling because, in my mind, I almost feel like the derby and everybody that participates in it has an obligation to provide funding for these initiatives and I thought that if we didn’t go forward with it, we would be doing them a disservice. That was the big struggle in my mind but, the reality is, after talking to a bunch of people, I just really had to respect the community of Tofino. As much as I love it and want to support it, I also have to respect it.”

He said current social distancing requirements would not have allowed the event’s social activities to flourish, adding the communal nature of the derby is a key part of its popularity.

“We looked at modifying it and taking away some things that really make this a unique event and, in the end, we just really didn’t think it was going to work,” he said. “I’m going to miss it immensely…It’s a huge family event for us and it’s going to be hard that weekend when it’s not taking place. You run the gamut of emotions. You kind of feel guilty in the sense that you had to make that decision that’s going to impact so many people, I do feel bad about that. But, again, the advice that I got from a lot of people is it’s out of your control. Everybody knows the intentions of the derby, but there’s certain things that are larger and supersede and this is where we’re at right now with this pandemic.”

Morrison and his Saltwater Classic team are currently working on alternative fundraising options, including a potential online auction and donations continue to be accepted at tofinosaltwaterclassic.com.

“A lot of people that were registered this year donated their entry fees back already, which was tremendous, we’re very thankful for those people stepping up and doing that and we’re kicking around some other ideas,” he said. “We are looking at things right now to do because we would like to continue the legacy of the derby in some fashion and contribute to some initiatives.”

He added local youth are key beneficiaries of the derby’s fundraising efforts.

“It’s really about being able to provide them with some life experiences and educating them on what they can do to become better people and what they can do to help out and be part of the cause of making, essentially, this world a better place,” he said.



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

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READ MORE: Brendan Morrison’s 10th annual Tofino Saltwater Classic raises $75K

READ MORE: Local groups cheer Tofino Saltwater Classic funding

READ MORE: VIDEO: Brendan Morrison’s Tofino Saltwater Classic passes $500,000 raised

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