THUNDER BAY - The city of Thunder Bay is known as the Tai Chi capital of Canada and the city where the ancient martial art was born is recognizing that distinction with a unique gift that is the first of its kind in North America.
On Monday, delegates from Jiaozuo City, China, along with members of the city of Thunder Bay Sister Cities Committee and the Peng You International Tai Chi Training Association, unveiled three statues at the Tai Chi Park on the waterfront.
“This is a very good presentation,” said Peng You, instructor and president of the Peng You Tai Chi Training Association. “From the birth place of Tai Chi they donated to the city of Tai Chi. It is very meaningful.”
Last May, the two cities signed a sister’s cities agreement and in September, representatives from the city of Thunder Bay visited China, during which the Chinese hosts offered the statues, as well an international Tai Chi academic conference to be held later this year.
Jiaozuo City donated the statues to the city and covered all costs, including shipping the 800 pound bronze figures, two of which represent Tai Chi movements, and the third depicting Chen Wangting, the founder of Tai Chi.
“Thunder Bay is the capital of martial arts in Canada and a world famous Tai Chi city,” said Jiaozuo City mayor, Xu Yixian, through a translator during his speech at the unveiling ceremony. “Last year, the two cities reached an agreement that Jiaozuo donated a set of Tai Chi Statues to Thunder Bay as a symbol of friendship between us.”
“I sincerely hope that Jiaozuo deepens the pragmatic cooperation in the field of economy, trade, science, technology, tourism and sports on the basis of Tai Chi culture, we hope the tree of international friendship is fruitful.”
Brian McKinnon, chair of the Thunder Bay Sister Cities Committee, said it is an overwhelming gift to receive the three bronze statues from the people of Jiaozuo.
“These are extraordinary,” he said. “We are the only place in North American with them. We have become the centre of Tai Chi in North American and this has just further substantiated that particular notion. It’s marvelous.”
During the Chinese delegation’s visit to Thunder Bay, they emphasized the importance of a strong cultural relationship between the two cities, but also expressed interest in the city as a mining centre, much like Jiaozuo, as well as health care, technology, and research.
“We anticipate this is going to be a very fruitful relationship, both artistically, culturally, and economically,” McKinnon said.
According to McKinnon, the delegates from Jiaozuo said the statues are a gift and there is no need for the city to reciprocate.
“The delegates are very happy by doing so,” You added. “First, Thunder Bay has a lot of similarities with Jiaozuo City and second they really recognized we are the city of Tai Chi because the popularity is very good here. They are the birth place of Tai Chi. This connects us even tighter and even deeper.”
In the past, marble balloon animal statues on the waterfront were moved because of repeated damage due to vandalism. McKinnon said the city will be taking measure to hopefully prevent vandalism to the statues at Tai Chi Park, including setting up surveillance cameras.
You said the statues really bring a positive energy to the Tai Chi Park and he believes they will reinforce the Tai Chi Training Association motto of health, friendship, and happiness.
“This is a unique way to express how to build strong relationships between two cities, and beyond that, between two countries, especially I really like to see, between people,” he said. “From now on, the giant will not be lonely anymore because this is more good energy to this wonderful place.”