Here we go, Canada!

As the clock counts down the final hours until the beginning of the 2017 Canada Summer Games today marks the culmination of four years of planning. It is also a day of celebration for those who have been involved since the very beginning.

Amidst the flurry of last minute preparations to ready Winnipeg, Gimli and Kenora, Ont. for two weeks of sports and cultural programming, Host Society Co-Chairs, Mariette Mulaire and Hubert Mesman, reflected on the journey and the emotions associated with tonight.

After the Winnipeg bid was accepted the immediate priority turned to comprehensive front end planning, explained Mesman and Mulaire. The focus was on building a strong board representative of the community, setting a good business plan and making sure there were clear objectives. The vision was to marry sport development with culture and to build the Games on community involvement.

Another key priority for the Board was inclusivity. Co-Hosts Treaty No. 1, Treaty No. 3 and the Metis Nation represented by the Manitoba Metis Federation, whose traditional lands and water these Games will be held upon, as well as many Elders and Grandmothers provided cultural guidance for the Games.

Operationalizing the vision of the Board fell to employee #1, President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Hnatiuk, who was entrusted to build and lead a staff capable of staging the Games. The team now consists of over 70 people who are all pulling in the same direction to support a myriad of functional areas critical to the success of the Games.

Along the way a highly engaged cohort of 500 leadership volunteers and 6,000 Games-time volunteers came aboard to help deliver an amazing athlete experience and raise the profile of Winnipeg.

The enormity of the whole undertaking and staging The Hottest Summer in Half a Century is not lost on either Co-Chair.

“To see tonight is absolutely going to be touching. If we can just give them a great experience and great memories we’ve done our job,” said Mulaire.

“It will be emotional, undoubtedly, but exuberant excitement over all that has come before us,” Mesman remarked. “Now it falls onto the athletes and onto the field where it belongs. All this work we have done is for those young athletes coming here and letting them have the experience of their life so for me that is extremely important and very special and it will make all of us feel really accomplished through this whole project.”