Halifax welcomes 2700 athletes for the Canada Winter Games

Photo by Canada Games Flickr

Photo by Canada Games Flickr

2700 athletes from 10 provinces and three territories marched into the Halifax Metro Centre Friday night during the opening ceremonies of the Halifax 2011 Canada Winter Games.
The ceremony showcased all things Canadian and Nova Scotian. “Young people from sea-to-sea-to sea, isn’t this a great country,” said Prime Minster Stephen Harper.
Nova Scotian premier Darrell Dexter commented on the positive atmosphere of the city, “I can’t remember a time when Nova Scotians were so excited. There’s an electricity in the air,” said Dexter, “ A mix of pride, excitement and anticipation that I expect will build with each day of the Games.”
Tom Quinn, Canada Games Council chairman spoke of the effects of the Canada games. “Never has a city hosted the Games and not turned out for the better,” said Quinn.
“Above all else we are Canadian,” said Jean-Paul Devau, chair of the 2011 Canada Games. Other dignitaries in attendance wereMinister of Health and Wellness Maureen MacDonald; Minister of Defence and Nova Scotia MP, Peter MacKay; Minister of State for Sport Gary Lunn; Chuck Bridges, vice-chair of the 2011 Canada Games; and Lt.-Gov. Mayann Francis.
Flags from every province and territory were visible in the nearly full metro centre.
Spoken word poet Tanya Davis presented a poem to inspire the athletes, “it’s a show of skill and also of camaraderie,” she said, “Welcome to Nova Scotia.”
Each provincial and territorial team was lead into the Metro Centre with a placard on a canoe paddle stating the name of the province or territory. The lasts hosts, the Yukon, lead the parade of athletes into the Metro Centre followed by the provinces and territories alphabetically.  Nova Scotia proceeded last into the Metro Centre greated into a standing ovation.
Rich Aucoin had everyone excited during the parade of athletes. For each province he lead cheers. Highlights included “When I say Yu, you say Kon – Yu-Kon-Yu-Kon” and “P-E-I, P-E-I” as well as “TOBA TOBA TOBA.”
Each team had matching uniforms, Saskatchewan green and white jackets looked fantastic. Ontario decked out in white looked sleek.  Nova Scotia stood out in blue by choosing a lighter, brighter blue than the matching blue that Alberta and Quebec sported. Similarly, Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick blended into each other by having maroon colour jackets.
Four members of the Nova Scotia team made a statement by choosing to accessorize their uniforms with yellow fisherman hats.
JRDN sang the national anthem and Grand Derangement had the crowd going wild while the Canada Games Flag was passed by the athletes.
The Trews performed their single, ‘Sing Your Heart Out’ creating a moving moment.
Chantal Kreviazuk sang her new song ‘Supersonic’, a song written specifically for the Canada Games that speaks to passion and discipline of the participants of the Games.
Other Artists included the Stadacona Band and The Stanfields. Local dancers performed with members of Atlantic Cirque.
Jimmy Rankin preformed ‘My Only Wish’ while Chanel Mazerolle, Gentrey Thomas, Maggie Jane MacDonald and Doug Johnson, representing the Acadian, African, Gaelic and Mi’kmaq The four founding cultures of Nova Scotia brought the Canada games torches in. “It was amazing, everyone was excited to see the torch,” said Gaelic representative Maggie Jane MacDonald,  “It was wonderful, it seemed to go off with out a hitch and it was great, everyone had a great time.”
The four torches came together to light the Canada Games Roly McLenahan Torch, held by Halifax Gold medal Paralympian in sailing Paul Tingley. The torch was finally passed to the crew of the tall ship Barque Picton Castle who lit the caldron.
‘It was an amazing experience and I couldn’t believe the moment” said Amanda MacLean, a member of PEI’s women’s curling team, “I’m really excited.”
The ceremony was produced by Patrick Roberge Productions, which has produced shows for the 2010 Paralympics Winter Games, previous Canada Games and the 2010 Grey Cup Halftime Show. They partnered with Halifax-based Pilot Light Productions to assemble the ceremonies’ diverse musical acts.
The 2011 Canada Winter Games is the largest multi-sport event held in Nova Scotia. This is Halifax’s first Canada Winter Games, previously hosting the Canada Summer Games in 1969.
Held every two years, alternating between summer and winter, the Canada Games are a key event in the development of Canada’s young athletes, producing the next generation of national, international and Olympic champions.

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