Former astronaut Chris Hadfield was the first Canadian to operate Canadarm in orbit in 1995, the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station in 2013 and now he will be the first Canadian to bear the torch for the 2015 Pan American Games.
Premier Kathleen Wynne opened up the floor for Chris Hadfield to give a speech to excited fans at the Eaton Centre after the announcement on Wednesday noon.
“(I’ve had) an amazing sequence of chances to represent our country,” Hadfield said. “And it makes me doubly or triply proud to be one of the representatives of the many people who are going to be carrying the torch all across Canada.”
Organizers said over 3,000 Canadians will be selected to carry the torch.
The national torch relay will makes its 41-day journey across Canada starting in Toronto on May 30, 2015 and making its way back for the lighting of the cauldron on July 10.
The torch relay will travel through more than 130 communities in Ontario including First Nations reserves.
Councillor of the Mississaugas of the New Credit Stacey Laforme, whose community is part of the torch relay, said the visit will have a positive impact for the First Nations community.
“This is the first time in the history of it (the Pan An Games) that a First Nations community is being recognized as host of the games,” said Laforme, “Of course we want to show our heritage and our culture but what we also want to do is make sure everyone is included; it’s part of our duty as First Nations people.”
Anyone who is will be able to become a torch bearer by signing up at the Games’ official website. A random draw will take place to select volunteers in December.