March 4, 2018
On March 4, 2018, after a fast and furious year of preparation, athletes gathered at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2018 Manitoba Winter Games powered by Manitoba Hydro to usher in a week of competition, camaraderie, and memories that will last a lifetime.
The ceremony opened with the parade of athletes. Bearing the flags leading their region were gymnastics athlete Ella Fleury from Dugald for Team East, curling athlete Jayden Rutter from Carman for Team South, curling athlete Carter Williamson from Dauphin for Team West, archery athlete Roman Boyechko from Winnipeg for Team Winnipeg Blue, archery athlete Terron Baker from Winnipeg for Team Winnipeg Gold, and gymnastics athlete Grace Dubinak from Flin Flon for Team North.
Following the entry of the athletes, Host Society Communications Chair Bruce Krentz introduced local Elder Jack Robinson to bless the ceremonies, while Margaret and Megan Dumas performed the Canadian national anthem in Cree.
Local and provincial dignitaries brought greetings to the Games, including Minister of Sport, Culture and Heritage Cathy Cox, MP for Churchill- Keewatinook Aski Niki Ashton, Mayor of Thompson Dennis Fenske, CEO of Sport Manitoba Jeff Hnatiuk, Manitoba Hydro Vice President of Indigenous Affairs Jeff Betker, and Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation Councillor Bonnie Linklater.The flag of the Manitoba Games was marched in by the 737 Thompson Air Cadet Squadron, and raised in the CA Nesbitt Arena. During the Closing Ceremonies, the flag will be presented to representatives of the Dauphin Host Society, future hosts of the 2020 Manitoba Summer Games.
The Athlete's Oath, Official's Oath, and Coach's Oath was read on behalf of those present by gymnastics athlete Taylor Beavis, hockey referee Kruz Mitchel, and ringette coach Sylvie Piche respectively.
Bringing in the Manitoba Games torch was Thompson local Todd Harwood, who competed in the 1994 Manitoba Games hosted in Thompson and volunteered for the Team North Mission Staff across the province since. The torch was handed to a number of high-achieving local athletes, including Adrianna Proulx, 2017 Rookie of the Year for Brandon University's basketball team, 2016 provincial track and field champion Ashley Williams, 2012 Manitoba Summer Games multi-medalist Michael Robinson, 2012 Summer Games multi-medalist Megan Szabo and Team North figure skating athlete Megan Szabo, and 2006 Special Olympian and 2010 Manitoba Winter Games bronze medalist Shawn Hay.
The procession was live-streamed on the stage as the athletes left the arena to light the 2018 Winter Games torch in front of the Thompson Regional Community Centre.
Manitoba Games Council Chair Shayne Yaschyshyn officially declared the 2018 Manitoba Winter Games open, followed by closing remarks and thank you's by 2018 Host Society co-chairs Sandra Ross-Hitch and Murray Kissick.
Entertainment during the ceremonies was provided by Diamond Dance Academy, Northern Jigging Champion Ricky Pronteau and his fellow jiggers, and hip-hop performers Poetry in Motion.
“Sport has the power of bringing communities together in ways that we do not think possible,” said Ross-Hitch. You'll be fighting for something that's greater than just winning a medal: you will be showing what it means to dig down deep to beat your personal best, break records, and win, just by being here. Every day you do not quit, you are a winner.”