The City of Thunder Bay received the official Canada Games flag Tuesday on its cross-country tour to the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax that will begin Feb. 11. Mayor Keith Hobbs along with local athletes who will be competing in the Games raised the flag in McGillivray Square during a special ceremony at City Hall to celebrate Thunder Bay’s past and present involvement in the Canada Games.
“Thunder Bay has a proud history as a past Canada Games host city and we proudly support our incredible athletes who will be participating in this year’s Games in Halifax,” said Mayor Keith Hobbs. “Our Canada Games Complex, built in ’81 for the Games, is still a pillar of recreation in this community that brings together athletes and families in a healthy and positive way. We are fortunate to have a facility like this and value our reputation as a welcoming host city.”
Two Thunder Bay female hockey players, Amanda Makela and Brittany Zuback, will be competing in the Games with the Ontario Women’s Hockey Team. Amanda Makela was a member of the 2009-10 National Champions Thunder Bay Sportop Midget AA Queens and has just returned from Sweden where she was a member of Canada’s National Team competing in the World Under-18 Women’s Hockey Championships where they won a Silver Medal.
Brittany Zuback, who was represented at the flag-raising by her father Rob and sister Christina, was also a member of the 2009-10 National Champions Thunder Bay Sportop Midget AA Queens and currently plays for the Kitchener Waterloo Lady Rangers in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League.
There will be a strong Thunder Bay presence on Team Ontario’s Cross Country Ski Teams with four Thunder Bay skiers competing including; Jimmy Gunka, Christopher Hamilton, and Michael Somppi on the men’s team, Erin Tribe competing for the women and Team Manager Liz Inkila and Head Coach Eric Bailey.
One Thunder Bay athlete, Synchronized Swimmer Madeline Porter, will compete as part of Team Manitoba due to geographic sanctions. Madeline is currently training in Winnipeg, but was represented at the ceremony by step-father Wes Luloff. Before leaving for training this season, she attended St. Patrick’s High School.
Team members and their families along with the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, City Officials and sports fans came out to show their support for the players and participate in the flag-raising.
All former Canada Games host Cities have the opportunity to host the Canada Games Flag for three days on its cross-country tour to the 2011 Canada Winter Games taking place in Halifax, Nova Scotia Feb. 11-27. The Flag arrived in Thunder Bay from Brandon, MB who hosted Canada’s 1979 Winter Games and the 1997 Summer Games. The next stop for the flag is London, ON who hosted the 2001 Summer Games. The Flag began its tour in Whitehorse, YK on Dec. 3 and will arrive in Halifax for the opening ceremony on Feb. 10. Halifax also hosted the very first Canada Summer Games in 1969.