November 03, 2007

Aboriginals argue over Olympics

First Nations divided over 2010 Olympic Games[Gord] Hill argued that the Olympics will bring "an accelerated pace of destruction" to Native territories in B.C.

"All this resource exploitation, it prohibits Native people from going out on the land and gaining the sustenance from the land in traditional ways," he said.

Hill claimed that Olympic development would prevent Native people from maintaining their traditional ways of life. They would find it increasingly difficult to sustain themselves in their territories, he continued, and be forced into urban areas where few opportunities exist for them.

But such concerns don't seem to be troubling some B.C. Native leaders. Bill Williams, hereditary chief of the Squamish Nation, is a member of the chief executive board of the Four Host First Nations Society, a group of chiefs and council members from the four First Nations groups on whose land Olympic events are scheduled to be held. He argued that there was no reason any Native Canadian, or even Native American, should be excluded from the opportunities provided by the 2010 Olympics.

The Olympics will require a staff of 75,000 people, while the entire Squamish Nation is only 3,500 people, Williams pointed out. "So what we've done, as the Four Host First Nations, is ask other organizations…to step forward and be involved."
More conflicting views:Angela Sterritt of the Gitxsan Nation and a First Nations activist for youth and indigenous rights, expressed concern about the effects an event the size of the Olympics can have on Natives' land, waters, sacred sites, and homes.

The Olympics will impact Natives' personal identities, she argued: "VANOC aspires to use our 'culture' to hide facts about history and present a lie that we are a vibrant, content, and 'happy people'. In this way, they want to silence and pacify our indigenous and not-so-content masses."

On October 30, VANOC signed an agreement with the United Nations where it pledged to minimize the environmental footprint of major events related to the Games. Sterritt called the move "insulting…considering the massive acceleration of the destruction of the land the [Olympics] is promoting and undertaking".

But Williams argued that the Olympics could provide a platform on which B.C.'s First Nations could show the world who they are. "VANOC is looking at creating something unique, that is real Canadian," he said. "What could be more real Canadian than the indigenous people of the land?"
Below:  Ward Churchill was there too.

1 comment:

The Local Crank said...

"Below: Ward Churchill was there too"

As if those poor people haven't suffered enough already...