The Winter 2010 Olympics might not receive the usual widespread appreciation this year – instead, the games are facing harsh opposition by indigenous groups in Canada and international communities.
Concerned with ecological destruction on native land in Vancouver, increasing homelessness due to displacement and a number of other issues, anti-Olympics organizers have created a movement to challenge the Olympic industry and its impacts.
Organizers from the Olympic Resistance Network, an indigenous anti-Olympics organization, will be discussing reasons for growing opposition tomorrow at 7 p.m. in the East Conference Room of the Memorial Union.
“The main reason for opposing the 2010 Olympic games is to stand in solidarity with the indigenous people there in [British Columbia],” said Alapay Flores, a junior Native American studies and anthropology double major. “The Olympics is no longer about unifying nations in the name of world peace, but unifying nations to promote destruction. We can’t be quiet any longer.”
The ORN movement is embarking on a west coast speaking tour, traveling to various college campuses in California and Washington to shed light on the possible negative impacts of the Olympic games. Flores, part of the Seventh Generation Nation group established on campus in fall 2009, contacted the Olympic Resistance movement to bring their tour to the UC Davis campus.
Yet despite the opposition from various groups, this year will be the first time in Olympic history that aboriginals have been official partners in the Olympic games. The Lil’wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations will be jointly hosting the 2010 Games with the Vancouver Olympic Committee. The four host First Nations hold that the Olympics will have a lasting positive impact on Canada’s aboriginals and will educate peoples abroad on their cultural values.
“What people will learn is that we’re business people, we’re entrepreneurs, we’re visual artists and we’re performing artists,” said Tewanee Joseph, head of the Four-Host First Nations group in a press release. “We no longer want to be seem as just ‘dime store Indians;’ just beads and feathers. I think those stereotypes are very important for us to break.”
The Games, which begin Feb. 12, have worked to boost the economy by providing jobs for the indigenous. According to a Pricewaterhouse-Coopers economic report, Games-related training programs provided jobs for more than 200 people, while Olympic organizers have additionally given $58 million to aboriginal businesses.
However, groups like the ORN and Davis’ Seventh Nation Generation stress that the negative outcomes of the Olympic Games outweigh the benefits. Because the aboriginal cultures share a sacred bond with their surrounding natural world, which extends from Northern Vancouver and into Whistler, the increased construction accommodating the winter games has been viewed as desecrating their sacred grounds.
“They are staging the Olympics on stolen native land; this is illegal and morally unfit,” said junior international relations and history double major Danielle Sales. “They have no right to sell or lease the land for the benefit of corporations. They are not just destroying the land, they are destroying the souls of the indigenous as well.”
REBECCA SHRAGGE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was directed to this from an American friend at UCDavis. As a Canadian student residing in Vancouver who has considerable involvement and vested interest with the “native aboriginals”, let me congratulate you on your apparent use of Google for article research. (Very certain I read that same Tewannee Joseph article yesterday.)
Let me just say something I have noticed in my experience in my own work with Aboriginal peoples, as well as what has happened all too frequently in Vancouver these past few years since the bid: the number of non-Indigenous radical groups in the world who cite Aboriginal rights as reasoning for their campaigns is staggering. Noone can claim destruction of ‘Indigenous souls’ besides the peoples themselves. I certainly have many qualms with Olympic involvement, however I (and many of my ‘native aboriginals’ would agree) refuse to resort to stereotypical tropes on Indigenous peoples to back ‘for or against’ arguments.
Tewanee Joseph is absolutely correct; the 2010 Olympics represents the opportune time to show that the Aboriginal peoples of Canada refuse to be thought of as ‘dime store indians’ any longer, but as citizens of their own Nations, and even as Canadians if they so identify. The not-for-profit organization entitled the ‘Four Host First Nations’ has been in the making for several years, and represents the four First Nations on whose territories the games will take place, with their invitation and blessing as they recognize the many advantages of finally after more than a century of colonial rule having the historic opportunity to represent themselves to the globe.
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