Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Canadian Aboriginal Influence on 2010 Olympic Winter Games


An inukshuk on the Whistler Summit, British Columbia, Canada
Daniel Walsh photo @ courtesy of http://www.trekearth.com/

The Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C., had some remarkable influence of Canadian aboriginals. These influences were quite visible to the world.

Some of The Aboriginal Influences on the Olympics

Planning and Hosting of the Games: Out of 198 First Nations (indigenous people groups) in the province of British Columbia, the Chiefs and other members of the Four Host First Nations (of Lil'wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh) directly participated in the planning and hosting of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games with the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee.

Olympic Emblem (Logo): The Vancouver Olympic Games emblem depicts an inukshuk, a symbol used by Inuit (Eskimo) people of Canada's Arctic regions. This inukshuk represents an "eternal expression of the hospitality of a nation that warmly welcomes the people of the world with open arms every day."

Non-Inuit aboriginal groups criticized the acceptance of this Olympic emblem because they feel that the symbol did not reflect the native art and culture of the Vancouver region or the rest of the British Columbia where the actual Olympic games were being held.

Olympic Mascots: Each Olympic Game chooses its mascot (a person, animal or object that is supposed to bring good luck) according to some local legend or culture. The Vancouver Olympic Games chose Quatchi (the sasquatch -- also called the bigfoot -- is a large, hairy, apelike creature that roams the forests of North-West USA and Canada), Miga (the sea bear), Sumi (animal spirit) and Mukmuk (happy marmot -- a burrowing rodent), drawn from the First Nations legends and mythology. The Vancouver Olympic Games mascots were drawn by aboriginal artist Meomi.

Arenas, Cultural Centres and Pavilions: Some of the Sports arenas, cultural centres and pavilions were built following aboriginal architecture and arts.

Olympic Medals: Olympic gold, silver and bronze medals have aboriginal design of an orca whale.

Opening Ceremony: In this ceremony four aboriginal totem pole like large statues were displayed. Totem pole figures represent ancestors or supernatural beings. In addition, the chiefs of Four Host First Nations were present in both opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games with other VIPs. Members of many aboriginal groups also participated in the welcoming ceremony with their traditional costumes and head-gears by singing and dancing.

Olympic Games Telecast in Eight Aboriginal Languages: Canada has the Aboriginal People's Television Network (APTN) that is owned and run by indigenous people. It was launched in 1999. The eight languages, used in the telecast of Olympic news and events, were: Attikamek, Mohawk, Mi'kmaq, Ojibwe, Cree, Ogi-Cree, Micips and Inuktitut. This is the first time in the history of Olympic Games that sports broadcast or telecast was in any aboriginal language.

Anti-Olympic Sentiments and Demonstrations

Even if a good number of aboriginal groups gave their full cooperation in the planning and hosting of the Olympic Games, some aboriginals and their non-aboriginal supporters, from before the Olympic games, were against the winter games in Vancouver, B.C. They were vocal in expressing their sentiments against holding of the games. They felt that Olympic Games were capitalist machinations for making more profits at the cost of the common and poor people. They said that the games were being held on aboriginal lands with no real benefits to them.

There were some protest demonstrations with violence, followed by arrests of some of the protest activists.

To know about some of these anti-Olympic activities and protests, you may visit the following sites:

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