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Thunder Bay Gears Up to Celebrate Olympic Spirit


November 10, 2009 – With the Olympic Torch arriving in Thunder Bay in just a few weeks, Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nation are gearing up for one of the most high profile events of a generation. Thunder Bay is one of just four communities in northern Ontario selected to host a community celebration in conjunction with the Olympic Torch Relay.

The City of Thunder Bay, Fort William First Nation and Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), a presenting sponsor of the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay, announced the initial details of the upcoming Torch Relays and community celebrations at a joint media conference today. The Torch makes its relay debut in Thunder Bay on Sunday, Jan. 3, ending at an outdoor celebration at the Community Auditorium before making its way to Fort William First Nation and Kakabeka Falls and west to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games on Jan. 4.

“As the Olympics draw nearer, the pride all Canadians will feel will be incredible,” said Acting Mayor Councillor Aldo Ruberto. “Thunder Bay has a rich history of sport and we are thrilled to host an Olympic Torch Community Celebration. This is a once in a unique opportunity for the whole City to come together and celebrate the Olympic spirit. Mark your calendars for Jan. 3 and plan for a full day of activities. I think our community will really welcome the Torch and enjoy the festivities we have planned.”

In accordance with VANOC rules, the Relay route must remain confidential until Dec. 20, 2009; however, Councillor Ruberto announced Thunder Bay’s Torch relay will begin at 5:45 pm and will arrive at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium at 7 pm. The community celebration, set for 6-8 pm, will include performances on the Olympic stage and end in a fireworks show.

Although Thunder Bay will only host the Torch and its entourage for one day, planning for this unique event has been in the works for nearly a year. The Relay will include approximately 20 torch bearers, each running 300 meters. The Relay and Community Celebration will require as many as 300 volunteers.

“The coordination of the Olympic Torch Relay involves many components and layers of protocol and planning,” said Doug Henry, Supervisor – Recreation & Culture who is coordinating the Olympic Torch Relay Celebrations. “We are so fortunate to have the expertise and cooperation of various City Departments and many community organizations. There is no doubt the Torch Celebration on Jan. 3 will be an event that the community will remember for a long time.”

A Sports Spirit Festival with a variety of activities including free swimming and Thunderbolts Diving demonstrations at the Canada Games Complex, free public skating and a Thunder Bay Women’s Hockey Exhibition game at the Port Arthur Arena, skiing clinics and demonstrations at Port Arthur Stadium, along with entertainment indoors at the Community Auditorium from 3 – 5 pm, are planned throughout the day on Sunday, Jan. 3.

RBC announced five lucky runners who will participate in the Torch Relay. Dale Shippam, Brad Yeo, Margaret Rooney, Ron Michaliuk and Chris Holland were selected by the bank to participate in the relay.

“We are pleased to announce these five individuals as our 2010 Olympic Torchbearers and to recognize their commitment that will help build a lasting legacy for Thunder Bay and for Canada,” said Murray Walberg, Regional Vice-President. “All five are an inspiration and demonstrate how each of us can make a difference. To be part of the Olympic Torch Relay is a unique and exciting opportunity and RBC is proud to offer Canadians a chance to participate in the Olympic celebrations and share in the Olympic Spirit. We encourage all residents to come out and cheer on the torchbearers as they make their way across Canada.”

As Canada’s longest-standing supporter of the Canadian Olympic Team since 1947, RBC is a Premier National Partner of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and proud to bring the Olympic Spirit to communities across Canada as presenting partner of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay.

The City of Thunder Bay and Municipality of Shuniah also presented special recognition to Ms. Janine Landry, a Métis Nation member and Shuniah resident who was selected as one of only 11 Aboriginal Youth Flame Attendants across Canada who will guard the Olympic Flame during its 106-day journey to the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. Ms. Landry will work alongside the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and begin her duties Nov. 26 in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Watch for more details on the Olympic Torch Run and Community celebration in the coming weeks and visit www.thunderbay.ca/olympics.

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Contact:  Doug Henry, Supervisor – Recreation & Culture Division, 625-2487, cell: 627-9416.