Red Deerians got their first look at the torch that will make its way across the country leading up the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
The MNP Canada Games Torch Relay torch design, relay route and torchbearer nomination process were revealed at a press conference at the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame Tuesday.
Lacombe’s Mackenzie Van Damme, creator of games mascot Waskasoo, was named the first torchbearer at the press conference.
“I feel really special doing this and I feel like I’m really good at something now. I’ve become a good artist,” said Van Damme.
Van Damme said she looked at a bunch of different designs online and combined them into one mascot for the games. She can’t wait to carry the torch, she added.
“I can’t really explain it, but I feel amazing about it. You just can’t get over the fact that you can do it,” she said.
The relay begins Oct. 4 in Ottawa from the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill and will run through almost 50 communities before coming to Red Deer. There will be 10 to 15 torchbearers in each community, with 26 relay stops and 22 celebration stops across Canada.
Lyn Radford, games board chair, said she’s excited for Van Damme to be the first official torchbearer.
“Her work was phenomenal,” she said. “Mackenzie is right in the age group of our athletes … that will be attending. Right now a million athletes across this country are vying to come to Red Deer to be one of the 3,600 competing.”
Radford said Van Damme will carry the torch near Red Deer, but can’t reveal much more until we’re closer to the opening ceremony.
The torch was designed to “marry” the MNP and Canada Games brands, said Radford.
“It jumped out at me way more (seeing the torch in person),” she said. “We wanted to create something that would stand out and be recognized as soon as you see it in the other communities. I think we’ve achieved that.”
Radford said she hopes to see a lot of torchbearer nominations.
It could be “a volunteer, maybe it’s a leader in their community, but let’s have those nominations come in thick and heavy and give us a really hard process to choose the right people,” said Radford.
Jason Tuffs, MNP chairman and CEO, said the relay is a great opportunity for MNP.
“We’re inspired by the passion and determination that drives Canadian athletes and those same values have driven us to empower businesses across Canada for 60 years,” he said.
For more information, visit www.canadagames.ca.