Christi Belcourt's Pan Am Games medal design inspired by the environment

A Métis artist from Espanola will have her work given out to hundreds of winning athletes at the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.

Royal Canadian Mint will craft more than 4,000 for summer event

Visual artist Christi Belcourt designed the medals that winning Pan Am and Para Pan Am athletes will take home. (Jeana Peltier)

A Métis artist from Espanola will have her work given out to hundreds of winning athletes at the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.

Christi Belcourt was approached by the Royal Canadian Mint to create the designs for the medals. The Pan Am games start today.

She says she was excited to be involved in the games.
The 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games were unveiled Tuesday, and are the first ones to feature braille. 0:26

"It's a great honour to do such an important job. I mean it's so important for, for the athletes mainly, when they get those medals, they feel really proud of their accomplishment and they have something that they can carry home with them."

Belcourt says she was inspired by the environment when designing medals for the games.

"I was trying to think about what was it that linked all the athletes together and all the countries together and really what it is that links us all together is land and water and the environment."

Materials for the medals are being supplied by Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corporation, which sourced them from three different mines located in the Americas —​ copper from Chile, silver from the Dominican Republic and gold from Ontario.

The Royal Canadian Mint will craft the medals which, for the first time in Pan Am and Parapan Am Games history will include Braille.

The medals measure 86.7 millimetres in diameter, roughly the same as a softball, and weigh 350 grams — about the weight of a can of soup.

Some 7,500 athletes from across Latin American, South America, the Caribbean and North America will be competing for a medal at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games in July. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

About 6,600 athletes from 41 countries will compete in 36 Pan Am sports — including 28 Olympic sports — plus 15 Parapan Am sports. A total of 4,283 medals will be awarded in 825 medal events.

Canada is fielding its largest-ever Pan Am Games team of 700 athletes, and has set a goal of finishing second in the medals — behind perennial champion U.S. — with 160.

The Pan Ams will run July 10-26, while the Parapan Am Games are Aug. 7-14.

With files from The Canadian Press

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