Event of a lifetime
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.
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.