Just like that, the 2019 Canada Winter Games have come and gone.
Albertans rejoiced alongside British Columbians and Quebecers, and Canada was united for two weeks in Red Deer.
But that spirit doesn’t have to go away. The legacy of the Games, in theory, should live on forever.
Full disclosure: I supported the Games from the moment I arrived in Red Deer in Jan. 2015. As a native British Columbian lucky enough to be in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics, and a guy who grew up playing numerous sports, the 2019 Canada Winter Games was something I just had to be in Red Deer for.
What is certain in the long-term is that our city boasts a number of amazing new venues thanks to hosting the 2019 Games. If you haven’t yet been to Servus Arena, the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, Setters Place at Great Chief Park, Gary W. Harris Celebration Plaza, or the upgraded River Bend Recreation Area and Canyon Ski Resort, do it. They are simply phenomenal.
We also can’t forget the social impact the 2019 Games will have in helping organizations like The Mustard Seed and Safe Harbour through the Mitts for Many program.
A Games official said Saturday that the last two weeks should be looked at as more than just sporting competition, but also a cultural event. The 52° North Music + Cultural Festival was busy daily and each night the big white dome was packed with concert-goers for an all-star line-up of musical acts.
And when the final numbers are revealed this fall, the economic impact is likely to bear good news for the region.
What Red Deer should focus on in the months and years to come is remembering why we attended and made sure so many of those events were jam-packed. We attended because, among other things, we know that sport and culture matter to the human psyche.
Why were these events full, but the stands at a local junior hockey game are empty with the exception of parents at any other time of the year? Are our local athletes and performers not as hard-working or less-deserving of our support?
If Red Deer wants to ensure the legacy of the 2019 Games lives on, keep in mind the following names when you’re thinking of something to do on a lazy day six or 12 months from now: the Vipers, Optimist Chiefs, Sutter Fund Chiefs, Olds Grizzlys, RDC Kings and Queens, Central Lions Speed Skating Club, Rebels, Red Deer Fencing Club, Riggers, Buccaneers, Rustlers, Red Deer Ski Club, Real Canadian Wrestling, Woody’s Marathon, and the numerous charity runs and walks that take place.
On the culture side, keep in mind the Red Deer Royals, Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery, BullSkit, Central Alberta Theatre, Ignition Theatre, CentreFest, Bard on Bower, Alberta Culture Days, Norwegian Laft Hus, Fort Normandeau, Sunnybrook Farm, and the RDC School of Creative Arts, just to name a few.
If it’s not clear, I’m implying that I sense apathy in Red Deer for supporting homegrown talent. We neglect too often, I feel, to go view the exhibit that will educate us about where we come from and how we got to this point in history.
We just witnessed the greatest two weeks of marvelous athletics, sportsmanship and community building this city may ever see -- and it was supported to an incredible extent.
From the pin trading, to the raucous crowd that cheered Alberta's women's hockey team to gold on the final day, to Nunavut winning their first hockey game in Canada Games history, to regular everyday Albertans practicing their French...
...c’etait notre moment.
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