TORCH RELAY - Randy Mowat of MNP and Lyn Radford of the Games, watch on excitedly as Mackenzie Van Damme brings out the torch for the MNP Canada Games Torch Relay. Carlie Connolly/Red Deer Express

WATCH: Red Deer the first ever to hold a national torch relay in the history of Canada Winter Games

Mackenzie Van Damme named first torchbearer of MNP Canada Games Torch Relay

For the first time in the history of the Canada Winter Games, Red Deer will be the first to host the MNP Canada Games Torch Relay.

The 2019 Canada Winter Games Host Society announced May 15th the national MNP Canada Games Torch Relay route and torchbearer nomination process.

The Torch Relay will travel from coast to coast across the country, visiting almost 50 communities across Canada through a series of celebrations and torch relay stops starting this fall.

There will be 10 to 15 torchbearers in each torch relay community carrying the torch and torchbearers across the 26 torch relay stops are selected following a nomination process, which opened May 15th on the 2019 Games website.

“Thanks to the incredible support of MNP, we are taking the Roly McLenahan Canada Games Torch from coast to coast for the first time in the history of the Canada Games,” said Lyn Radford, board chair for the Games.

And she said the design process of the torch was no easy matter, as it took a couple of months.

“It’s a nice tribute to Roly McLenahan in that he was a past Canada Games supporter. It’s a memorial towards him and then each host society just goes further and develops it to make it unique for their community.”

She added that she’s very excited that Red Deer will be the first to host the national torch relay in the history of the Games.

“It was a vision we’ve had right from the word ‘go’ and we didn’t realize that it wasn’t traditionally a national torch relay, so we worked on it and we wanted to find a partner that would fit with us that would enable us to do that,” she said, adding that MNP came on as the perfect partner with branches across the country.

Radford also encourages everyone across Canada to find the MNP Canada Games Torch Relay stop near them and nominate an individual who they feel is a worthy recipient of being a torchbearer. Nominations for torchbearers are being accepted until June 30th. More information can be found by visiting canadagames.ca/2019/mnptorchrelay.

During the May 15th announcement, 12-year-old Mackenzie Van Damme, who was the creator of Games’ mascot Waskasoo, was named as the first torchbearer of the MNP Canada Games Torch Relay.

“It feels really awesome to be able to do something this amazing. It’s hard to explain because it’s just so cool,” said Van Damme.

With many of the athletes being her age who are competing in these Games, Van Damme said she’s excited she gets to be a part of it all.

“I’ve never been to see the Olympics or Winter Games, so it will be my first time going to something like that. It will be lots of fun.”

Graehme Heron, senior tax partner for Central Aberta for MNP said this event is a tangible reminder of how quickly the Games are coming to Red Deer and added, “There’s nothing more Canadian than going for a run in the snow and what better way to do that than carrying a torch.”

The Torch Relay officially begins in Ottawa from the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill on Oct. 4th and will arrive in Red Deer for the Opening Ceremony of the 2019 Games on Feb. 15th.

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