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What I Didn’t Expect From the Canada Winter Games

March 7, 2019

A few years ago, I attended a rally to host the 2019 Canada Winter Games. It was between us or Lethbridge. I really didn’t know what the Games were all about, but the rally was a fun break from work.

Fast forward to 2017 where I’m hired to help promote the 500 Days Out event for the Canada Winter Games, where the official Games mascot, Waskasoo was revealed. At this point, I still didn’t really get the excitement of the Games, but I was sure into Waskasoo (spoiler alert: I still am. That thing is so damn cute).

Now, nearly a week after the games, I’m sad that it’s all over. While I wish I had more time to volunteer and take in more of the sporting events, I still managed to pack in as much as I could. We enjoyed the opening ceremonies, men’s hockey, women’s hockey, curling finals, speed skating, wheelchair basketball, and the closing ceremonies, as well as saw Ashley McIssac, Alan Doyle, K-OS, Bif Naked, Scott Helman, and the Strumbellas as part of the music and cultural festival. We were inspired by the athletes (Liam wants to curl) and learned new things about new sports (like, did you know that there are blind athletes who downhill ski race? BLIND! THAT’S INSANE!) It was a fun two weeks and I’m proud of our little city for showing up in such a big way.

The Canada Winter Games were more than just sports. It was about bringing Canada together, bringing our community together, inclusivity, teamwork, kindness, culture, and camaraderie. I witnessed volunteers outside in -30 still smiling. I witnessed a Team Alberta athlete dancing with a team Ontario wheelchair athlete. I witnessed many conversations start over pins.

Oh the pins. I had no idea that this would have been a huge part of my life for two weeks. Liam had received some pins at the Opening Ceremonies and thought they were pretty cool. Then my dad brought home some pins from work and before long we were researching all the 2019 Canada Winter Games pins that were available (170 different ones, I was told) and helping reach his goal of collecting 22 pins. I spent an entire Saturday driving from place to place to complete a set of 11 pins with Liam and we had a blast. I was hustling pins online and in person, left right and centre. It was ridiculous but in the end we collected over 70 pins and talked with a lot of new people. Something as silly as pin collecting brought people together, got strangers talking to one another and I think in a world where everyone has their face down in their phones, it was refreshing to step back out into reality and just strike up conversations with random people.

I’m so glad that we got to experience the Games right here in our city, even if my life was momentarily taken over by pin trading, sports events, concerts and squealing over Waskasoo. I still have no shame in my pin game you guys. It was worth it.

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