Event of a life­time

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Sher­brooke

Thou­sands of vis­i­tors from right across the coun­try will be de­scend­ing on the Town­ships, in a few weeks, for one of the big­gest events to ever come to this area: the Canada Sum­mer Games – Sher­brooke 2013. Lynn Blouin, the Deputy CEO of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Hu­man Re­sources

for that event, who is a for­mer po­lit­i­cal aide and the wife of Or­ford MNA Pierre Reid, re­cently took part in the Hat­ley Canada Day Pa­rade along with that now fa­mous gi­ant hum­ming­bird, Zigzag, the mas­cot of the Games. Dur­ing the Of­fi­cial Open­ing af­ter the pa­rade, her pas­sion for the Sher­brooke Canada Games came through as she in­vited ev­ery­one to at­tend.

In Ms. Blouin’s po­si­tion as Deputy CEO, a role she de­scribes as “A trip of a life­time”, she over­sees nine of twenty ser­vices, be­sides the fi­nan­cial ser­vices, that will keep the games run­ning smoothly, and she still man­ages to sleep at night! In an in­ter­view with the

Stanstead Jour­nal, Lynn, who grew up in Ma­gog and lives there still, ex­plained how she came upon her im­por­tant role in this event, not slated to re­turn to Que­bec for about an­other 26 years. “I had been in­volved in the Ma­gog swim­ming event ( La Tra­versee) for eigh­teen years, and then worked in pol­i­tics for many years. Peo­ple would say to me that pol­i­tics was in my blood, and I would al­ways say no, events are in my blood! When I knew the City of Sher­brooke was in line to get the Games, I said ‘Oh man, if they come, I’ll be there.’ I was work­ing in the Cabi­net of Monique Jerome-For­get and, on the same day she re­signed, I saw a news re­port that Sher­brooke had just got the Games.”

Months later, when one of her old col­leagues, Luc Fournier, took on the po­si­tion as the CEO of the Games, she got a phone call. “We had worked to­gether be­fore so, when he called me, we sealed the deal.”

“When I started in Septem­ber, 2010, there were only three of us on staff. Now we have a staff of 93. It’s a very in­tense, hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence to grow a pro­ject like this. About eight months ago, we were hir­ing two or three peo­ple a week. Now we have a great team and those peo­ple are re­ally busy bees,” con­tin­ued Ms. Blouin who, be­sides with this big team, helps to over­see an army of about five thou­sand vol­un­teers.

As with the Olympics, the Canada Sum­mer Games will have elab­o­rate Open­ing and Clos­ing Cer­e­monies and Ms. Blouin was ex­cited to talk about them. “There will be lots of sur­prises. We had a pre­oc­cu­pa­tion to em­brace the idea of the whole of Canada be­ing rep­re­sented. We have artists from seven or eight prov­inces…We wanted to show a very large view of Canada but also what we do in Que­bec and in the Town­ships.” Al­though spec­ta­tors will have to buy tick­ets for the Open­ing Cer­e­mony, the Clos­ing Cer­e­mony will be free, a gen­er­ous gift to the pop­u­la­tion from Bom­bardier. “The emo­tion is dif­fer­ent in the cer­e­monies: the Open­ing Cer­e­mony is more for­mal while the Clos­ing is a big cel­e­bra­tion. They’re both not to be missed!”

“We’ve been very in­no­va­tive in the plan­ning of this event. We have over one hun­dred and twentyfive young peo­ple, am­bas­sadors, com­ing in for a week from all across the coun­try. They’re com­ing to vol­un­teer in the Games and to learn about Que­bec. That’s a first for the Canada Games.

“There’s also the caul­dron that we un­veiled this morn­ing. At first we wanted to build some­thing spe­cial to leave in Sher­brooke, then we found out the Canada Games caul­dron was bro­ken, so it be­came the of­fi­cial Canada Games caul­dron.” The caul­dron it­self, which holds the sym­bolic flame, is a beau­ti­ful tes­ta­ment to the spirit of co­op­er­a­tion needed to pull off an event of this mag­ni­tude. “The en­gi­neer­ing and plan­ning of the caul­dron was done at the

Univer­sité de Sher­brooke, it was de­signed by stu­dents in Bishop’s Univer­sity’s Fine Arts pro­gram, and it was built by stu­dents of the Len­noxville Vo­ca­tional and Train­ing Cen­tre.”

Vol­un­teers are still needed for the Games to work in se­cu­rity and as driv­ers for car-pool­ing. “It’s a nice job be­cause we want to make sure that ev­ery­one en­joys the Games, that in­cludes the vol­un­teers. We make sure that if a se­cu­rity vol­un­teer does three hours in a park- ing lot, their next three hours will be at the side of a field, like front row seats to the ac­tion,” said Ms. Blouin. Peo­ple in­ter­ested in vol­un­teer­ing can find the in­for­ma­tion on the of­fi­cial web­site. “What I’m most proud of is the spirit we’ve cre­ated: Th­ese are ‘games’ so we have to have fun!”

With just a few weeks left be­fore the Open­ing Cer­e­mony, I asked the Deputy CEO what she will be fo­cus­ing on. “Keep­ing ev­ery­body happy. Big dead­lines bring lots of pres­sure and our team has had a lot to deal with like five preg­nan­cies, sick­ness; this has brought added re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. We try to give our staff, the vol­un­teers, tools to han­dle the stress, help or emo­tional sup­port. We also have to help some to bring their goals down a lit­tle; it’s okay to reach for the sky but the stars are fine too.”

“For many, th­ese Games will be a once-in-a-life­time ex­pe­ri­ence. The level of com­pe­ti­tion is very high and al­most half of the com­pe­ti­tions are free! Peo­ple should not miss it, they should bring their kids; th­ese ath­letes are great ex­am­ples for them.”

“I want to have the great­est mem­o­ries of my life with th­ese Games, and I want that for the staff, vol­un­teers, the spec­ta­tors and the par­tic­i­pants!”

Lynn Blouin poses with the world’s big­gest hum­ming­bird, ZigZag.

Photo courtesy

Lynn Blouin, (cen­tre, front), is seen here with a few mem­bers of her team, in­clud­ing Wil­liam Hogg, to her left, and Tom Allen (back left), sur­round­ing the spe­cially-built caul­dron that will hold the flame.

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