Canada Games Mark its 50th Anniversary with Launch of National Flag Relay

QUEBEC CITY, Feb. 11, 2017 /CNW/ - Today marks the official 50th anniversary of the 1967 Canada Games in Quebec City, the first of 25 previous Canada Games Host Societies who will commemorate the occasion with a national flag relay as part of the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.

"The year 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation and the 50th anniversary of the Canada Games," said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. "To showcase this major sporting event, the Canada Games Council is kicking off the Flag Relay. Let's take advantage of Canada 150 to highlight the incredible contributions of our young athletes, who make our country proud."

The Canada Games are a product of Canada's centennial anniversary in 1967, and a unique version of the Canada Games flag was raised at Quebec City Hall today to mark the 50th anniversary of the Games. Each of the previous Host Societies will also celebrate with their own distinct events, ranging from flag raisings to festivals. There will be 21 stops on the tour, as some provinces have hosted more than once. The 50th anniversary of the Canada Games is one of the Canada 150 Signature Projects, receiving significant support from the Government of Canada.

"The Canada Games 50th Anniversary National Flag Relay celebrates the impact the Canada Games have had in communities across our country," said the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities. "Through community celebrations across the 25 host cities, the Flag Relay will honour all of our outstanding athletes who have competed for their province and territory at the Games. The Flag Relay will also celebrate those athletes who used the Games as a stepping stone before representing our country at the international level, proudly wearing the maple leaf. I look forward to meeting the Flag Relay on the other end, when it arrives this summer in Winnipeg for the start of the Games."

In its 50 year history, the Canada Games have cumulatively invested over $250 million in capital projects across the country.

''The Canada Games Flag Relay is an exciting initiative that re-ignites the passion of the Canada Games in past Host Societies and spreads the spirit of the Games throughout the nation,'' said Tom Quinn, Chairman of the Canada Games Council. "Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Canada Games to the day and we couldn't be more thrilled to see the flag trek across the country to each past host community until it arrives in beautiful Winnipeg on July 28th.''

The Canada Games property are a 1967 centennial project legacy. On-site at the event was the deputy mayor of Quebec City, Michelle Morin-Doyle. The first competition, held in Québec City, brought together 1800 athletes from 10 provinces and 2 territories and paved the way for what has become Canada's largest multi-sport competition for young athletes.

"By raising the official flag of the Canada Games in front of City Hall, we wish to recognize the talent of the athletes from Québec City who will be representing us during this competition", declared Mrs. Michelle Morin-Doyle, Deputy Mayor of Québec City. "This is also an excellent opportunity to reminisce about the very first Canada Games, held here during the winter of 1967. 50 years ago, Québec City was already a city of sports!"

Also on-site at the event was Gaétan Boucher, 1971 Canada Games alumnus.

"The 1971 Canada Games in Saskatoon were an eye opener for me. The athletes' village, the organization, the opening and closing ceremonies were all aspects of the Games that made me dream of something bigger. Following this experience, I have always felt that my presence at these Games, although unsuccessful (I was only 12 years old!) was the key to setting my goals to become one day an Olympic Champion." 

Winnipeg has the distinction of hosting the 50th anniversary edition of the Canada Games this summer. Jeff Hnatiuk, president and CEO of the 2017 Canada Summer Games Host Society, was also on site to celebrate the flag's journey.

"The 2017 Canada Summer Games present a unique opportunity for us to showcase the very best that Winnipeg and Manitoba have to offer as we host the 50th anniversary of the Canada Games this Summer," said Hnatiuk. "Our volunteers and staff are working very hard to provide an amazing experience for our young athletes and visitors, and we look forward to welcoming one and all for The Hottest Summer in Half a Century."

2017 is a monumental year for both Canada and the Canada Games as we're celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada and the 50th anniversary of the Canada Games.

For more information about the Flag Relay, please visit http://www.canadagames.ca/canada-games-flag-relay

About the Canada Games

Held once every two years, alternating between winter and summer, the Canada Games represent the highest level of national competition for up and coming Canadian athletes. The Games have been hosted in every province at least once since their inception in Quebec City during Canada's Centennial in 1967. The Games are proud of their contribution to Canada's sport development system in addition to their lasting legacy of sport facilities, community pride and national unity. 

The 2017 Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg are the 50th anniversary of the Canada Games and will be held from July 28th to August 13th. 

The 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer will be held from February 15th to March 3rd. 

The organization of the Canada Games is made possible thanks to the contribution and support of the Government of Canada, provincial/territorial governments, host municipalities and the Canada Games Council.

SOURCE Canada Games Council

For further information: Joel Allard, Communications Coordinator, Canada Games Council, Tel: (613) 526-2320, E-mail: jallard@canadagames.ca

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