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The inspirational 10 day Paralympic Torch Relay is underway as the first group of Paralympic Torchbearers- one from each province and territory- gathered in Ottawa and witnessed the lighting of the flame today, March 3, 2010.  Over 600 torchbearers will carry the flame on its proud journey through 11 communities until the the lighting of the Paralympic Cauldron at BC Place in downtown Vancouver on March 12. 

 The Paralympic Flame has no ancestral home but was ignited and blessed by Aboriginal firekeepers of the Pikwakanagan and Kitigan Zibi Algonquin bands on Victoria Island during a special ceremony.  It then was placed in a lantern and delivered to the Parliament Buildings where it passed to three youth representatives of the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit, Kanatami and Metis National Council.  This trio of flames was brought to a stage located on the Hill’s historic front lawn where Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed and  Squamish Nation Chief Gibby Jacob, on behalf of the Four Host First Nations, reunited the flames in the Paralympic Cauldron.  Arnold Bolt, a multi-sport Paralympian with many world records, officially started the flame’s journey by dipping his torch into the Paralympic cauldron in front of a crowd that included Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  Bolt then handed off the flame to 15 other torchbearers on the way to Vancouver. 

Paralymic sports include Alpine skiing, Biathlon, Cross country skiing, Ice sledge hockey and Wheelchair curling.  The events will take place at several of the Olympic venues in both Whistler and Vancouver.  Crowds will likely be smaller than at the Olympic Games, but the competition and excitement will be just as electric and memorable.  Click here for more information about the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games.   For superb Vancouver Bed & Breakfast accommodation and Bed & Breakfasts in Whistler, be sure to visit BCsBestBnBs.com.