100 Mile House was stop number 24, one of the last stops on the torch relay through the province celebrating the lead up to the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George, the largest multi-sport and cultural event ever held in northern British Columbia.
Local residents posed for pictures with the Canada Games Roly McLenahan Torch and the Games’ mascot Nanguz (a smiling fox with the northern lights in his whiskers) at the South Cariboo Rec. Centre on Feb. 15, which was followed by a presentation at 100 Mile House Elementary School.
“The torch was lit on Oct. 16 in Ottawa and since then its travelled across Canada to B.C.” Riley Trottier, the 2015 Games community relations co-ordinator, told the crowd.
“When these games were chosen, we wanted to make the Canada Games not just about Prince George, but about all northern B.C. as a whole, and showing all the wonderful things it has to offer.”
The theme of the torch relay is “Illuminate the North.” The final regional torch celebration was in Quesnel on Jan. 17.
Lac la Hache resident Bev Fry was one 150 northern British Columbians chosen to carry the torch. On Feb. 13, the torch will light the Canada Games Cauldron, ending the torch relay, and ceremonially marking the start of the Games.
“No other country has an event quite like this that focuses on sports and culture for youth,” Trottier said.
“Some of the athletes that compete in these games you will eventually see on the podium at the Olympics, playing professional sports and doing other amazing things with their sporting gifts. It’s really a chance to see the stars of the future.
“These games will not come back to B.C. for 26 years, and the chance they’ll be in northern B.C. again in the near future is fairly low. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Councillor Ralph Fossum welcomed the 2015 Games guests on behalf of the District of 100 Mile House.
“We are stopping place for people going north,” he said at the South Cariboo Rec. Centre. “That’s exactly what the torch relay is doing today.
“That’s hopefully what a lot of people will be doing traveling from southern B.C. [to the Canada Games in Prince George]. We’re a pretty welcoming place.”
Al Richmond, Cariboo Regional District chair, also addressed the crowd. He spoke about showcasing Cariboo communities at the 2015 Games with a pavilion displaying economic and tourism opportunities in the region.
“It’s a very important event. There are a lot of opportunities for up-and-comers, and a lot of opportunities to interact with folks coming from all across Canada to take part in these Games.”
The 2015 Canada Winter Games, which run Feb. 13 to March 1, will see 2,400 athletes ranging in age from 12 to 35 competing in 19 sports, 1,000 coaches and officials, up to 4,500 volunteers, hundreds of media and thousands of visitors from around the country.
The Lheidli T’enneh are the Official Host First Nation. The event will have an economic impact of more than $90 million, according to organizers.