The following is a speech given by Keith Hobbs, Mayor of the City of Thunder Bay during the Canada Games Flag Raising Ceremony on January 11, 2011.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Good afternoon. Thank you for joining me today to celebrate a Canadian tradition and the strength of our local athletes. The 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax are fast approaching – they begin on Feb. 11 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
As a past host of the Canada Games, Thunder Bay has the honour of hosting the Canada Games Flag for three days on its cross country tour as it makes its way to the Opening Ceremonies. The Flag arrived in Thunder Bay from Brandon, MB today 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.
This is an opportunity to come together and reflect on our strengths as a hosting community and celebrate the many achievements of all of our local athletes who’ve participated in the Canada Games since their inception.
Thunder Bay has a proud history as a past Canada Games host city – 2011 marks the 30-year anniversary since we hosted the Canada Games in 1981. 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.
In recognition of today’s event, Thunder Bay’s Canada Games Complex is offering $2 admission this evening from 7-9 pm. So I encourage everyone to get out and enjoy the facility that represents our Canada Games tradition.
Thunder Bay still has a strong presence in the Games through the incredible local athletes and sports professionals who’ll be competing in the 2011 Games. If you’re in attendance, please join me as I announce your names. Our athletes include:
- Madeline Porter, Synchronized Swimmer with Team Manitoba due to geographic sanctions. Madeline is currently training in Winnipeg, but is represented today by stepfather Wes Luloff.
- Amanda Makela and Brittany Zuback from the Ontario Women’s Hockey Team
- Team Ontario Cross Country skier Erin Tribe for the women, and
- Cross Country skiers Jimmy Gunka, Chris Hamilton and Michael Somppi for men, along with
- Team Ontario Cross Country Ski Team Manager Liz Inkila and Head Coach Eric Bailey.
Over the weekend at the ski trials, I understand that Michael Somppi was first athlete under 23 to cross the finish line which gives him an automatic berth to the World U23 Championships in Otepaa, Estonia. In doing so he also beat three Olympians and showed that he has future Olympic potential.
Congratulations to Michael, Chris and Jimmy and Erin on your qualifying performances – your community couldn’t be more proud. No doubt, we will have a great Northwestern Ontario presence at the Games.
I am pleased to have Amanda Makela joining us today. Amanda 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 – way to go Amanda Thunder Bay is so proud.
I am also pleased to be joined by Rob and Christina Zuback, father and sister of Brittany Zuback. Brittany was also a member of the 2009-10 National Champions Thunder Bay Sportop Midget AA Queens and is currently in Kitchener Waterloo where she plays for the Kitchener Waterloo Lady Rangers in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League.
So as you can see, there is no shortage of athletic talent in our City as well as some of the most passionate sports fans I know.
With that let’s raise the flag and display our Canada Games pride and support for the athletes who’ll represent Thunder Bay and our Province next month. Thank you everyone for coming out today.