Reflections on the 2015 Canada Winter Games

The 2015 Canada Winter Games have been a remarkable experience over the past two weeks in Prince George. At the heart of our Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) Northern Lights chapter is a willingness to work hard, to play hard, and to promote the communities and region we proudly serve. I think it is important to reflect the important roles CPRS Northern Lights members have fulfilled over the past two weeks, in the planning stages, and in helping create the bid that gave Prince George and northern B.C. the right to host these games. I would like to start with a heartfelt thank you to the members that were involved, through their work and/or volunteer opportunities, to help with the success of the 2015 Canada Winter Games.

Let’s start from the bidding process, as without the team that put the bid together, we would not be where we are today.  It was a dedicated group of people that collaborated and inspired residents of the City of Prince George and northern B.C. to get behind the bid. In that group were members of the CPRS Northern Lights team. I was not here for the bid process, however I remember Kevin Brown, one of our chapters founding members and the only CPRS Northern Lights inductee into the CPRS College of Fellows, telling me the story of the bid evaluation group being so impressed with our community spirit and venues. People even lined the streets of Prince George with signs, winter athletic equipment, and enthusiasm to show their support. Watching the video showing the excitement at the Kin Centre after Premier Gordon Campbell announced the Games were awarded to Prince George reminds us of the people that were involved early in the process to make this happen. It was the team that helped secure the bid and launch into the planning process for the next five years.

Throughout the five years leading up to the Games, the staff of the 2015 Canada Winter Games grew to include CPRS Northern Lights members and supporters. It was the communications and marketing team at the Games office that placed an important focus on working with the community and other communities in northern B.C. to make these games successful. Mike Davis and Alyson Gourley-Cramer have been strong members of CPRS Northern Lights, and continue to represent the chapter well in their endeavors.  It was also great to interact with members from other CPRS chapters that joined the Canada Winter Games public relations team for the Games and to hear about their local chapter activities. Something we do not take for granted is our membership does have options for professional development, and we want to continue to improve our offers. It is these people that worked long and hard hours, and helped lead many of the volunteer teams, to make sure these Games were as successful as they were. They have represented our chapter extraordinarily well on the national stage.  The entire team should be proud of what they accomplished.

Ribbon Cutting officially opening the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast display at the Canada Games Plaza.

Ribbon Cutting officially opening the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast display at the Canada Games Plaza.

I’d also like to recognize our membership who did not work for the 2015 Games, but were involved in their professional roles. These organizations included the Prince George Airport, Northern Health, Initiatives Prince George, the City of Prince George, the Regional District of Fraser Fort George, the Cariboo Regional District, UNBC, and many more. These organizations were able to find new, unique methods to reach out to their target audiences prior to the Games, and support Games activities.  They also placed a high value on legacy pieces, ensuring the opportunities created by the Games would live on in the community. One of the amazing initiatives was the creation of new mascots that helped organizations promote their brand during the Games, but also will be in the community for years to come. It is a unique and interesting way of engagement, and something I was very impressed with. It was likely not part of your job description to be part of the 2015 Canada Winter Games, but having all of the organizations in the community working collaboratively and finding ways to promote key areas of consideration helped improve the image of Prince George, northern B.C., and B.C. as a whole.  It was really exciting to see all of the initiatives that were developed and delivered.

Spirit the Caribou from Northern Health and Fraser the Moose from Tourism Prince George at Canada Games Plaza.

Spirit the Caribou from Northern Health and Fraser the Moose from Tourism Prince George at Canada Games Plaza.

It is easy to speak about the volunteers, and I think we need to recognize those who helped with the planning and those who helped during the Games (with some people wearing both hats). The Games were built on a foundation of volunteerism to support the great work by staff. The volunteers were responsible for forming a committee or being part of a committee that worked to ensure their functional area had a plan in place, and be involved in the execution of that plan. Most of these teams began meeting in 2013, giving their time to support an event that would showcase their region and communities in a positive light. We had CPRS Northern Lights members helping on the media team, the mascot team, the torch relay team, and many more! I would love to name everyone involved, but with the fear of missing someone I will withhold. It is great to see our membership involved, donating their time to help ensure our city and region was prepared for what was to come.

The second wave of volunteerism was during Games time. It was referred to as the sea of green – the mass of volunteers proudly displaying the green jackets and toques across the City of Prince George over the past two weeks. The CPRS Northern Lights chapter was extremely well represented in these jackets, willing to help in any way they can to ensure these games were successful. It was amazing to see everyone that donned the green jacket stepping up and make the commitment to our community and region, and in my opinion especially those from CPRS Northern Lights. It has been said by many officials during the Games, volunteerism is a key component of the Canada Winter Games, and the volunteers in Prince George showed what a strong team can accomplish.

Renee McCloskey volunteering with Nanguz the Fox from the 2015 Canada Winter Games.

Renee McCloskey volunteering with Nanguz the Fox from the 2015 Canada Winter Games.

In closing, I’d like to thank everyone that made these last two weeks, and five plus years of planning, extremely successful. This thank you goes out especially to the CPRS Northern Lights members who were involved wearing many different hats. You have once again shown the true commitment of CPRS Northern Lights members!

Jonathon Dyck

Acting President

Canadian Public Relations Society – Northern Lights Chapter

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