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The 2017 Canada Games should fire its wildfire-inspired mascot

May 6, 2016
The squirrel on fire mascot for the 2017 Canada Games in Winnipeg.—Winnipeg 2017

The squirrel on fire mascot for the 2017 Winnipeg Canada Summer Games.—Winnipeg 2017

As wildfire has been ripping, out-of-control, through the Alberta community of Fort McMurray, and as nearly 100 large wildfires burn across Western Canada, organizers of the 2017 Canada Summer Games have unveiled a wildfire-inspired mascot.

The event, to be held in the Western Canadian city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, between July 28 to August 13, 2017, will be represented by what looks like a flaming squirrel, who’s hobbies, we are told, include climbing trees!

Cue awkward silence.

Making sport of the summer wildfire season

The as-yet un-named Winnipeg 2017 mascot—likes dancing, climbing trees and anything barbeques!

Likes dancing, climbing trees and anything barbequed!—Winnipeg 2017

The marketing of the 2017 Winnipeg Canada Summer Games relies heavily on fiery language and imagery. For example, next summer will mark the 50th anniversary of the Canada Summer Games and therefore the Winnipeg 2017 website proclaims that it will be “The hottest summer in half a century”.

The 2017 Canada Summer Games mascot, which was unveiled two days ago, on May 4, at Winnipeg’s Dufferin School, is—we are told—”a magical creature created by the summer heat, who lives in Manitoba’s Spirit Sands desert. It draws its strength from the scorching sun, giving it energy to explore forests, lakes and fields”.

More than that, “the Mascot ignites the fire inside everyone it meets, encouraging them to have fun and push the limits”.

“Like the fire that burns bright in the Canada Games cauldron, the flames on the Mascot represent unity through sport”.

I shudder to think what organizers will have the runners passing to each other in the obligatory pre-games torch relay!

A burning need for cute and clever marketing gimmicks

No one loves a pun or clever word play more than I do but I think that the brains behind this mascot have been too clever for their own good.

Perhaps the Winnipeg organizers of the 2017 Canada Summer Games reasoned that taking ownership of the elemental force of fire would allow them to both satisfy the marketing need for a visually-striking, regional-themed, identity (suitable for selling tickets, T-shirts and plush toys), as well as counter the close association between the city of Winnipeg and ice-cold winter, i.e., “Winterpeg”.

Fire and wildfire is certainly something that helps define summers in Manitoba. But whoever approved this flaming mascot was a flaming idiot. The summer wildfire season is nothing to make sport of, as the devastation of Fort McMurray graphically shows.

I can’t believe that everyone involved in the choice isn’t having grave second thoughts.

As it stands, the 2017 Winnipeg Canada Summer Games website is still promoting the burning squirrel mascot (it’s only been two days). Part of this promotion is a contest to name the mascot, open to students from kindergarten to Grade 8 living in Manitoba and Kenora, Ontario.

The contest is not open to homeless bloggers from Vancouver, British Columbia. which is just as well. My choices would include: “slightly tasteless”, “insensitive”, “inappropriate”  and “ill-advised”.

Which mascot has been made homeless by wildfires?

As of today (Friday, May 6), there are 40 wildfires burning in British Columbia; 31 burning across Alberta; another 13 wildfires burning in the province of Saskatchewan and a further 18 active in Manitoba.

The wildfire risk in Manitoba is high enough that burning permits for huge areas of the province have been cancelled, including the entire Spruce Woods provincial park as well as its Spirit Sands desert—the home, according to the 2017 Canada Summer Games, of you-know-who. Click the images to enlarge them.

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From → Art, Internet, Squirrel

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