UPDATE: 4:56 p.m.
The Memorial Cup received a military escort on Thursday afternoon as the national major junior hockey championship kicked off with an opening ceremony at the Tk’emlups powwow grounds.
Two Canadian Forces fighter jets buzzed the arbour just after 4 p.m. as part of the festivities.
Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir welcomed the teams, saying she was “truly honoured.”
“We are so excited to be here and we look forward to the competition on the ice, as well as participating in all the extra and exciting events that accompany the Memorial Cup,” she said.
Host organizing committee chair Yves Lacasse called it “an exciting day.”
“Put on your party hats — our host organizing committee has been working long hours for over the last few months to plan special events for our community,” he said.
“We believe that this is going to be the best Memorial Cup ever.”
The Memorial Cup trophy was marched into the powwow grounds by soldiers with the Rocky Mountain Rangers.
The tournament will get underway on Friday night when the host Kamloops Blazers take on the QMJHL champion Quebec Remparts. Puck drop at Sandman Centre is 6 p.m.
ORIGINAL STORY: 4 a.m.
Memorial Cup events are starting Thursday, officially kicking off with the arrival of the cup and a concert by Juno award-winning band the Glorious Sons.
The opening ceremony, which will be held at the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc powwow arbour at 3:30 p.m., will see cultural activities, a series of speakers and the arrival of the Memorial Cup.
Norm Daley, Kamloops Blazers president, told Castanet Kamloops he doesn’t want to spoil the manner of the cup’s arrival.
“It's a bit of a surprise. We've got some ideas of how we want to do it,” Daley said.
“We've actually got a bit of a program there and just trying to make it a bit of a visual and dramatic effect as it occurs. So I'm not going to let any secrets out on that.”
The free event will open with a welcome prayer by Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc and includes several speakers.
“We have Kukpi7 Casimir, we have the mayor of Kamloops, we will have Dan MacKenzie with the Canadian Hockey League, Ron Robison from the Western Hockey League, Yves Lacasse — obviously our host organizing chair has some things to say — and myself,” said Daley.
The ceremony will also see dignitaries being presented with jerseys.
The Blazers will unveil commemorative jerseys players will wear for their first game on Friday.
The jerseys will subsequently be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the the Royal Canadian Legion Dominion Command Poppy Trust Fund.
The fund helps national veteran programs and supports veterans and their families in need.
Daley said the opening ceremony will be the only time all four teams will be gathered together.
Each team will be escorted from the arena in a bus, where they will be given educational opportunities to learn a bit more about Tk’emlups and Kamloops.
“We're going to have an elder from Tk’emlups that's going to give them the significance of the arbour, significance of Tk’emlúps and the meaning of the waters and just various opportunities for them to learn a little bit more about Kamloops and what we have going on in our community,” said Daley.
Daley said he believes holding the event at the arbour will showcase the collaboration between Tk’emlúps and Kamloops.
“You know, obviously it's a pretty significant scenario and part of the reconciliation process that we're working together with Tk’emlúps,” said Daley.
“I just think that it's a great opportunity to showcase both the Tk’emlúps te Secwèpemc community and also Kamloops and how we always work together as partners.”
A concert by the two-time Juno award-winning rock band the Glorious Sons will take place after the ceremony at 7:30 p.m. at the Molson Canadian Hockey House, which is set up outside Sandman Centre.
Daley said the concert will kick off a series of events, including other shows, a speaker series and watch parties during Memorial Cup games that will take place at the temporary venue.
“So that'd be our first chance to welcome everybody down to the entertainment zone and kick things off for this year's Memorial Cup,” said Daley.
The hockey house will host performances from DJ Shub on May 31, Gord Bamford on June 1 and Dear Rouge on June 3, as well as local musicians from Kamloops throughout the tournament.
Following the first day of events, the Hockey Hall of Fame will be coming to Kelson Hall, where Lord Stanley may make an appearance.
“We’re trying to get it here, that's something that we'd like to do. It's in high demand, and we only find out sort of at the last minute, but we have requested its appearance,” said Daley.
More information on events at the Memorial Cup is available online.