Young athletes from across Canada paraded into the Centrium Friday night for the Opening Ceremony of the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
With the theme of celebrating dynamic and memorable moments, Red Deer’s historic night welcomed thousands of Canadian athletes competing at the Games.
Among the many well-known community members speaking during the Ceremony was Mayor Tara Veer.
“The Canada Winter Games is about the commitment of this village of 37 million people strong to believe in and support Canada’s youth in your sports development, in your aspirations and in the fact that you are our nation’s promise as the next generation of history makers.
“To the people of our Red Deer, who are honoured to welcome our fellow Canadians, you can be incredibly proud of what you have accomplished. We are here, my community, because you courageously said, ‘Yes.’ We are here because you said, ‘We will find a way.’ We are here because you said, ‘We’ll do it together.’”
As an event celebrating Red Deer and Central Alberta, the Ceremony featured 500 participants and performers.
More than 20 community groups were involved, including cultural groups, choirs, a gymnastic club, scouts, a senior centre, colleges, elementary schools, cadets and RCMP members.
Governor General of Canada Julie Payette addressed the audience in both English and French.
“The hottest place to be in Canada tonight is here in Red Deer, Alberta. It takes a huge effort to put on such an enormous national event together and you did it Red Deer! Way to go! It’s going to be an extraordinary two weeks. Enjoy every minute of it.
“To you athletes. I would say you’ve worked really hard. You are here because you are the best representing your province and your territories. You’re here to demonstrate what you can do — so to you I say: Give it all. Compete fairly. Make new friends and you will gain experiences that will last with you for your lifetime and will maybe take you even higher.”
Among many cultural performances, the Opening Ceremony featured Dallas Archand, a world champion hoop dancer — a form of indigenous storytelling dating back to the 1400s.
The ihana Youth Choir, the Soliloquy Choir and the Iron Ridge Elementary Sign Language Choir performed the national anthem.
A highlight of the night was when Alberta speed skater Maddison Pearman and Red Deer gymnast Mark Armstrong lit the rope fuse that was connected from the floor to the Canada Winter Games cauldron high above the audience, igniting the flame.