October 29, 2009

Youth choir's Olympics invitation axed

Newfoundland choir feels snubbed by Olympic offer

Group of young singers expected to perform at opening ceremonies. Instead they'll be part of an aboriginal showcase

By Marsha Lederman and Justine Hunter
For two years, the young members of the Se't A'newey Performance Choir in Conne River, Nfld., had envisioned themselves singing at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Olympic Games in front of a promised television audience of some two billion people.

Instead, the children have been offered a spot at an Olympic-related aboriginal showcase, with an estimated audience of “tens of thousands”--an offer made Tuesday by British Columbia's Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, George Abbott.

And their choir director doesn't like the government's compromise solution one bit.

“This tiny community is extremely concerned over the long-term effect this will have on these impressionable youth,” Brenda Jeddore wrote in an e-mail Tuesday to the Opposition New Democratic Party. “We are not impressed with ‘band aid' solutions because we deserve to be granted the ‘promise' that was [publicly] uttered by Premier [Gordon] Campbell.”

The remote Newfoundland community was meeting Tuesday night to discuss Mr. Abbott's invitation.

That alleged promise is at the centre of a cross-country he said-she said controversy. Mrs. Jeddore and the band chief, Misel Joe, insist they heard Mr. Campbell invite the children's choir to perform at the 2010 Olympics, after he heard them sing at a gala in Corner Brook more than two years ago. They say the invitation was also witnessed by Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams, and others.

Mr. Campbell remembers it differently. “I said to the choir: ‘You know, wouldn't it be great if you could sing at the Olympics?' Not the opening ceremonies; I never had any control over the opening ceremonies.”

But whatever the choir heard, it was enough to launch them into more than two years of preparations for the performance. Then last week the band chief found out that the choir, having had no official contact with VANOC, was not actually scheduled to participate in the Olympics.
Comment:  Did the Newfoundlanders actually hear the words "opening ceremony"? The article doesn't say, but Campbell has a point. An invitation to sing at the Olympics isn't an invitation to sing during the opening ceremonies. It's an invitation to sing somewhere, sometime during the Olympics.

I mean, c'mon. Two years of preparation without getting the offer in writing? Without contacting the VANOC and verifying it? The Newfoundlanders have only themselves to blame for disappointing the kids.

For more on the subject, see Native Participation in 2010 Olympics.

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