A very weird thing is beginning to hit me as we are within 24 Mondays (6 months) to the start of our Winter Olympics in Whistler.

I’m a very tolerant man and liberal by most standards. So you ask what is bugging me now.

I feel the focus of the Olympics (which I feel is a Canadian project not just a Whistler event) is being overshadowed by the plethora of symbolism and reference to the First Nations of our beautiful Country; Canada.

The Inuksuk is a man-made stone landmark or cairn, used by the Inuit (aboriginals) and other peoples of the Arctic region of Canada. It is the symbol of the Olympics and looks like a symbolic man made of stone.

The Men, Women and Sledge hockey teams representing Canada will wear jerseys that have a great maple leaf with Canada under it (we’re not allowed to wear the Team Canada jerseys we won gold in the last Olympics due to technical reasons, don’t ask) but the Maple leaf dead centre has images embedded in it drawn by Musqueam native artist Debra Sparrow with eagles, thunderbirds, moose and a couple of caribou thrown in for good measure. The jerseys are on sale of course for a reasonable (by Olympic standards) of $135 CDN. But guess what – 10% goes to the Salish First Nation youth sports clubs (another native group).

When visitors land at the Vancouver International Airport for the Olympics they are struck by the native flags flying, the prints and artifacts for sale and of course the massive amounts of Haida (read native) work for sale in the airport concourse. Oh let’s not forget the smoked salmon flogged by fishmongers with emblazoned Haida symbols all over the packaging.

The Vancouver 2010 Olympics has already started a public art program that will eventually result in works by aboriginal artists permanently installed at all 15 Olympic and Paralympic venues.(all other BC artists please move to Alberta till the games are over to avoid disappointment).

Vanoc’s aboriginal arts program is hoping for more applications from first nations artists. But the program isn’t limited to established aboriginal artists from Metro Vancouver.

Connie Watts, program manager, said the program is open to aboriginal artists across the country, including women working in traditional fields such as weaving, youths in mentorship programs and emerging artists.

“We’re definitely targeting established artists but we really want an inclusive program to show the diversity of the aboriginal community,” she said.

I want it to be an open and inclusive program. We’re encouraging all artists to apply. (unless you are white, black or of a yellow colour).

The idea of including aboriginal art in the sports venues started in Turin in 2006. At the Canada-B.C. pavilion, one of the most popular aboriginal works of art was the carved entrance doors by Squamish artist Aaron Nelson-Moody

As you leave the Airport you will see Bill Reid’s ‘Jade Canoe’ version of his Spirit of Haida Gwaii at Vancouver International Airport (the other is at the Canadian embassy in Washington. BTW this item is on our $20 bill and reiterates the premise that British Columbia is a province owned, run and managed by the First Nation people.

As a Canadian I am aghast by the selling out of the Olympics to the aboriginal groups of BC. Let’s try to get them all in the package folks, Haida, Musqueam, Salish and Inuit. There are more groups represented but hey this is a blog and I would need lots more space to tell you more.

I am relieved that the Olympic torch is made by the iconic Bombardier folks (airplanes, skidoos) in Quebec. The torch is supposed to say something about the country in which its Games are being held. In our case the torch for the Vancouver 2010 Games says cold, bright, expansive and snowy.

Inspired, Vanoc says, “by both the lines carved into the snow by skiers shushing down mountains and the undulating beauty of the snowy Canadian landscape”, the Vancouver torch is a long white and chrome staff utterly different from the racy blue curve of Turin, the red scroll of Beijing, and even the squat wood chrome cauldron of Calgary.

If we are heading to a full aboriginal, First Nations games why didn’t they make the torch out of whale bone or caribou hide covered haunch bone. Why break the First Nation theme. It’s so Canadian!!

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  1. Well said.

    As a member of a family who moved to Vancouver prior to the railroad arriving I believe this is a Canadian “Olympic” game not just a “First Nations Game”.

    By the way, what is the First Nation? Did the Inuit, Haida, Iroquois, Musqueam, Salish, Sioux, and other (Forget Native, as I find that demeaning) Indian nations all unite and become one Nation? When did this happen?. I guess I missed it somewhere in my travel.

    My grandfather delivered Chief Sitting Bull’s granddaughter in Saskatchewan, for those who think the Sioux only lived in the U.S.

    This is one nation, CANADA. This is what the Olympics are supposed to be representing. The show representing CANADA in Turin was a disgrace to this great nation. I only hope the one in 2010 is better.

    It is unfortunate what our leaders did in the early days of the formation of this great nation. Both on the Indian side and the so called “White Man” side. Let’s get on with it and build a Nation we can all be proud of.

    There are artists of all races in this great nation. It is unfortunate the leaders (if that is what we want to call them) of VANOC cannot recognize this. Shame on them….

  2. If we’re going this far, let’s go all the way and have a gigantic long house constructed as the pin trading area. You will discover this is the best event of the olympics, where you meet all the worldwide Olympic spectator groupies to swap stories, pins, and getting to know. That is, if Van Oc even set aside space for this. Refer to Calgary 88.

    Imagine big fires with barbecuing salmon slabs (imported from Alaska where they have no fish farms.) and people enjoying people. It’s going to rain you know!

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    A definite great read..Jim Bean

  4. There are Various Excellent Aboriginal Artists for the 2010 Olympics, it’s just so sad how they were supposed to display their art in such a un-professional disorganized way! Tell me, “Watts” this all about?? Someone should be getting a “Bannock Slap”!

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