Canada Games torch bearers for Kelowna reflect on experience

It was the first time the Canada Games Torch Relay expanded past the host province. In the first 50 years of the Canada Games, the torch would relay only through communities in the province that would host that year’s Canada games.

Canada Games CEO, Scott Robinson, wanted this year’s Canada Games in Red Deer, Alberta to be different.

“What’s the best way to get national attention to the Canada Games?” asked Robinson. “This is the first year to have the relay go national, with a national marketing campaign. (The relay) is celebration of the games and a celebration of involving the communities who are involved with the games.”

RELATED: Torchbearers carry flames through Kelowna streets

In Kelowna, eight locals relayed the torch throughout downtown Friday evening ending at Stuart Park. Although it was cold and dark, the crowd — and torch bearers — were happy to see the torch come through Kelowna on its way to Red Deer.

“It’s a great event for our community, and it’s really cool to have our community chosen for the torch relay for the Canada Games,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran. “So honoured to be able to participate with my fellow torch bearers. It’s an event like this that really helps bring our community, and our country closer together, to help celebrate diversity and acceptance.

“And while it’s a massive country, events like this really help pull everyone together and make it feel a little smaller, and for all of us to feel like we belong to something really special.”

Fellow torch bearers along side Mayor Basran were Kelowna MLA Steve Thomson, former Canada Games coach Christina Acton, city councillor Maxine DeHart, CEO of Accelerate Okanagan Raghwa Gopal, BC Sports Hall of Fame Goalie Ivan McLelland, 99.9 Sun FM’s Brian Mack, and Canada Games alumni and gold medalist Renee Simons.

“It’s a great honour for me to be here, and to welcome the torch on this historic journey across Canada here into Kelowna,” said MLA Steve Thomson. “The important part of all of this is really about sport, helping build communities in the theme of the Canada Games is building unity in sport. (Sport) is what helps shape our communities, it’s what brings communities, provinces, and our country together.”

The torch will light up almost 20 more communities in B.C and Alberta before finishing in Red Deer for the start of the Canada Games on Feb. 15.

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Mayor Basran switches with torch bearer Christina Acton at the beginning of the relay. Photo: Mackenzie Britton/Capital News
“Its getting heavy!” says Mayor Basran as he waves on his part of the relay. Photo: Mackenzie Britton/Capital News
99.9 Sun FM’s B-Mack high fives Mayor Basran on his start of the relay. Photo: Mackenzie Britton/Capital News
“This is awesome!” yells B-Mack. Photo: Mackenzie Britton/Capital News
More high fives from B-Mack, this time with Maxine DeHart. Photo: Mackenzie Britton/Capital News
Maxine DeHart and her entourage as they relay the torch through Kelowna’s downtown. Photo: Mackenzie Britton/Capital News
Raghwa Gopal was more than ready for his turn with the torch. Photo: Mackenzie Britton/Capital News
The relay continues with ringing bells and supportive cheers from Kelowna’s streets and businesses. Photo: Mackenzie Britton/Capital News
Steve Thomson and Raghwa continue the high five tradition. Photo: Mackenzie Britton/Capital News
Steve shows some speed in his turn of the relay - he almost lost his entourage! Photo: Mackenzie Britton/Capital News
Steve passes the torch along to Renee Simons right on the waterfront. Photo: Mackenzie Britton/Capital News
A quick group shot before the last stretch. Photo: Mackenzie Britton/Capital News
Renee Simons walks down the waterfront. Photo: Mackenzie Britton/Capital News
Renee passes to the last torch bearer, and all around good guy, Ivan McLelland. Photo: Mackenzie Britton/Capital News
Ivan leads the torch bearer entourage to cheers and praise at the relay’s end at Stuart Park. Photo: Mackenzie Britton/Capital News
Kelowna’s Canada Games torch bearers. From left to right: Steve Thomson, Brian Mack, Renee Simons, Raghwa Gopal, Ivan McLelland, Colin Basran, Maxine Dehart, and Christina Acton.

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