By Gerald V. Paul
Reflecting on his St. Lucia and The Grenadines roots, Denzel Innis proclaimed his selection Monday as a Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Games torchbearer as “surreal”.
Canadian-born Innis, 17, was introduced by CIBC’s Rob Assimakopoulos, senior vice-president and chief marketing officer, at the Ontario Science Centre where the torch and details of the relay were unveiled.
“More than 3,000 torchbearers, like CIBC Pan Am Youth Vision Scholarship winner Denzel Innis, as well as many of our clients, employees and CIBC Team Next athletes, will carry the flame with pride and inspire passion for the Games,” Assimakopoulos said. CIBC is lead partner and official bank of the Games.
“It’s surreal. Thanks to my mother, Tamara, and CIBC for making this possible,” Innis told The Camera, adding that he loves music and playing the trumpet and is involved in his school’s athletic department.
Premier Kathleen Wynne told the gathering, “It is a privilege to present the 50 youth heroes chosen to represent the province of Ontario as our torchbearers for the 2015 Pan Am Games.
“In going above and beyond to help their fellow citizens, the courage and bravery of these extraordinary young people is inspiring. These Pan Am torchbearers embody the spirit of the Games and we are proud to have them showcase our province on the world stage.”
The contemporary design of the torch presents the energetic and playful Toronto 2015 brand and captures the spirit of the Games. The colourful United We Play! depictions of people in motion symbolize the assembly of athletes through the celebration of sport and culture. It can withstand winds up to 70 km/h.
The Games Torch Relay is a 41-day journey that will share the Pan Am spirit in more than 130 communities. Deeply rooted in history and tradition, the Pan Am flame will be lit in May 2015 in a traditional ceremony in Teotihuacan, Mexico, before it travels to Canada.
“The Games are all about bringing people together and the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games Torch Relay will unite Ontarians, Canadians and communities,” said Saad Rafi, chief executive officer of the Toronto 2015 Organizing Committee. He called this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for people to experience the emotion, excitement and significance of the Pan Am flame.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said, “We are thrilled and honoured to welcome the Pan Am flame when the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Torch Relay comes to Toronto, leading up to the Games. The relay will pass through communities across our great city, highlighting our diverse and vibrant neighbourhoods.
“I encourage all Torontonians to come out and be part of the excitement.”
The torch relay will start in Canada on May 30 and make its final stop on July 10 at the Opening Ceremony of the Pan Am Games, after being carried by 3,000 torchbearers.
Meanwhile, members of the public are invited to register free to attend an event called Historicizing the Pan American Games, an international colloquium April 20-21.
The conference will attempt to overcome that scholarly deficit by studying the history of the Pan-Am Games and the narratives, policies and legacies they have promoted over the years. It will feature papers from an international array of scholars, as well as a session on Toronto 2015.