Tanya Zilinski remembers being really, really tired the day a reporter came to take a photo of her and her newborn son.
Born five days before, on February 19, Elijah Peter Oliver John was the first baby born at Hope’s Fraser Canyon Hospital in the year 2000 to Zilinski, of Pine Creek First Nation, and Shane John of Chawathil First Nation.
Other than fatigue, Zilinski remembers being very surprised to be the mom to bring Hope’s first baby of the millenium into the world.
“It came as a surprise because I wasn’t trying to have the millenium baby and I just thought it was so cool,” Zilinski said. “Just to have the new baby of Hope for the new millenium.”
She remembers there was some fear about the Y2K bug, all the computers crashing and society going back to the dark ages, but that fear left after the first day of the year. She also remembers the excitement, hearing from spiritual leaders that the new millenium would bring in an era of enlightenment.
From being a pink-hued newborn swaddled in a blanket with his mother’s adoring gaze, John has now grown into an “outgoing, charismatic” young man, Zilinski said.
“He cares about people…He’s very thoughtful of other people,” she said. “He’s such a good role model, especially for Indigenous youth…a lot of the kids around here look up to him too. By attending school regularly, getting such good grades, working while going to school, playing hockey, all of the bursaries and the scholarships that he got.”
In addition to heading to the University of the Fraser Valley’s automotive technician program on a full first-year scholarship, John is also an aspiring rap musician with the stage name ‘brown shugga’.
The plan is to come back to Hope and open an automotive shop. It’s definitely home for this family, Zilinski was also born at the local hospital and remembers the day she gave birth to her son the same nurses who had brought her into the world were still there.
“The possibilities are limitless for him right now, he could literally do anything he wants in life and he’ll be successful at it,” she said. “His next 18 years are going to be something pretty awesome.”
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