Canada Summer Games turns 50

The hottest summer games in half a century

After the excitement of the games Winnipeg will benefit from new and enhanced sport facilities that will assist our own athletes here at home for years to come. Photo courtesy of Canada Summer Games.

By Tania Moffat

What do Sidney Crosby, Lennox Lewis, Steve Nash, Cindy Klassen and Diana Matheson all have in common? Each are professional athletes within their fields, most are Olympic champions and all of them are Canada Games alumni.

This summer, Winnipeg has the honour of hosting the Canada Summer Games which will feature 16 sports, over 250 events and a major cultural festival to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the games, previous host cities and notable alumni. Winnipeg will welcome over 4,000 athletes and coaches as well as more than 20,000 visitors coming to attend the games. It is our chance to shine and showcase our fabulous city and province, to show the rest of Canada what Manitoba summers are all about.

This year’s mascot, Niibin, is a magical creature who lives in Manitoba’s Spirit Sands desert born from the summer heat. Photo courtesy of the Canada Summer Games.

The 2017 Canada Games are co-hosted by Treaty 1 and Treaty 3 Indigenous People and the Manitoba Métis Federation. Cultural guidance was kindly provided by many elders and grandmothers, traditional knowledge keepers and healers and organized by Turtle Lodge, the International Centre for Indigenous Education and Wellness.

“The games started out as a way to unify the country and celebrate our cultural diversity. With this being such a momentous year, we may be hosting the largest gathering of youth in one location,” says Jeff Hnatiuk, president and CEO of the 2017 Canada Games Host Society. “The games are a sporting event but the festival is a cultural event and this year Winnipeg will host the hottest summer festival in half a century.”

A little history

The very first Canada Games were held in Quebec City in 1967, and were organized to celebrate Canada’s centennial. This first Canada Winter Games saw a total of 1,800 athletes from 10 provinces and two territories come out to compete in 15 sports. The games have been held every two years, alternating between summer and winter events.

Since 1967 over 75,000 athletes have competed in the games with hundreds of thousands taking part in their provincial or territorial try outs and qualifying events. Coaches, officials and over 6,000 volunteers help to make the event happen, along with the host city. A collaboration between the government of Canada, provincial/territorial governments, host municipalities, the private sector and the Canada Games Council make these events possible.

Building tomorrow’s athletes

The Summer Games are our country’s largest, multi-sport event for young athletes. Some of the athletes may have competed at national or international events but for many this will be their first experience attending a multi-sport event with their provincial or territorial team. Canada Games exposes youth to elite-level competition, inspiring them to reach further, train harder and maximize their own potential.

Performing well here has proven to be a stepping stone to greatness; this year’s stars may very well become future national or international professionals, or even Canadian Olympians. Watch our future stars as they compete for the Canada Games Flag and Centennial Cup.

Opening and closing ceremonies promise to be amazing and include past alumni. Even if you are not planning to attend a sporting event, you won’t want to miss the parties celebrating culture and the success of past and current athletes.

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