The 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver are fast approaching and so is the Olympic torch relay that will pass through the North Island just prior to the games.
The torch will arrive in Port Hardy Tues., Feb. 2 on a special ferry run at about 3:45 p.m., said the Port Hardy Torch Relay Committee. From there the torch will travel by vehicle down the road to Canadian Fishing Company, where it will board a war canoe flanked by RCMP and Coast Guard vessels.
The canoe will be paddled to the Seagate Wharf by first nations representatives.
From the wharf, the torch will be carried by pre-selected torchbearers north on Market Street to Tsulquate Reserve and the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw School, where drumming and singing will greet the torch. A brief blessing ceremony will be followed by refreshments.
From Tsulquate, the torch will head back to the highway and wend its way to the Civic Centre parking lot via Rupert and Centre streets.
And that’s where the party really gets underway.
At 5:30 p.m., local and visiting entertainers will provide the party atmosphere for the arrival of the torch. The evening will include music, dancing, short speeches and giveaways, all followed by fireworks at 7:30 p.m. to wrap things up.
On Wed., Feb. 3, the torch heads south with stops in Fort Rupert and Port McNeill.
The torch will be celebrated in Fort Rupert, with an invitation-only breakfast starting at 8 a.m. At 8:45 a.m., two traditional crest totem poles carved by Calvin and Stan Hunt will be unveiled in front of the big house. Inside, a traditional peace dance that represents the coming together of the five continents will be performed.
The torch is scheduled to arrive at the big house at 9:30 a.m., where elder fire keeper Mervin Child is expected to bless the flame.
The torch will then be run out of the community by torchbearers. The street will be lined with children and adults, singing a celebration song to send the flame on its way.
The flame then travels by vehicle to Port McNeill, arriving in the community at about 10:25 a.m.
The flame will travel down Campbell Way to McNeill Road past the high school, down to Broughton Boulevard and then back up Campbell Way to Cedar Street, before continuing on its way to Vancouver just before 11 a.m.
Port McNeill will start its celebration a day early, with Olympic Event Celebrations at local schools on Feb. 2. And organizers are encouraging residents to attend the celebration in Port Hardy that evening. Transit buses will be running for the evening and another bus has also been chartered with priority given to seniors. To book a spot on that bus, call the chamber of commerce office at 250-956-3131.
See next week’s Gazette for full route maps and schedules.