First Nations and the Vancouver Winter Olympics
Four Host First Nations Olympic Welcome
Honor Without Excuse
The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic and, afterward, the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games were prepared and held on traditional First Nation territories in British Columbia, Canada. These territories have belonged to the Aboriginals peoples of the Lil'wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. They were honored to welcome Olympic and Paralympic events to places like Whistler Mountain and to share their histories with all people.
After the high speed death of Russian Georgia's first time Olympian luger stopped the heart of the 2010 Winter Olympics and cast a pall over the celebration of athletes and nations. Bloggers began to criticize the events, the athletes, and even the singers at the Opening Ceremonies, but it is better to find what is good and brave after a tragedy than to look for what is petty in order to make oneself a Name in the media. First Nations spirit dashes this pettiness.
The Opening Ceremonies and indeed the entire Winter Olympics this year honors the departed athlete from Georgia, Nodar Kumaritashvili. This is a sad loss, but with such high speed, slick events and streamlined, smaller luge sleds; many young lights will be snuffed out in a flash in extreme sports. I suggest we honor him be remembering that he was doing what he loved to do - how many people live past retirement, having hated their whole working careers? In that respect, Nador achieved already at age 21, what many do not achieve in 70 years.
Some pettiness broadcast by bloggers and news media included too much criticism of lip synching, K.D. Lang, the venue, and equipment snafus. However, one of the better parts was the opening performed by the First Nations of the Vancouver Area. Not many people reported on this uplifting spectacle.
2010 Winter Olympics Aboriginal Pavilion
The First Nation Hosts
Mr. Tewanee Joseph is the Executive Director of the organization that presented the first Nations welcome at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics at BC Palace Stadium in Vancouver: Four Host First Nations, a nonprofit society.
I listened with earphones as I watched the half-hour presentation by the four Vancouver-area First Nations in this event, wishing to capture every detail of the languages. The first two sounded similar and the last two sounded different from each other and from the first two. How different brothers and sisters can speak when separated by centuries of travel and distance!
All of these four nations are related at some level of genetics, language and culture, but in the larger universe, all humans are related. A DNA difference of 2% - maybe less - makes a different being. As the Snohomish of Washington State not too far to the south tell in their legend Pushing Up the Sky, all people, animals, and birds worked together to raise the sky to a comfortable level by pushing it in unison with poles made from indigenous fir trees. Indeed, all these workers are people to the Native American and First Nation.
Four Host First Nations prepared Opening Ceremony Presentations for both the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Winter Games and consider them to be the scenes of "the biggest potlach the world has ever seen."
Suddenly, there has been a new recognition for Aboriginal Peoples from coast to coast in Canada. In return, they were eager to share who they are to the whole world. They remain eager to interact with other peoples now and in the future. Almost 1,000 different First Nations groups inhabit Canada, with a larger number for first peoples in USA, Mexico, and the Americas in the Western Hemisphere, not to forget mentioning the islands of the Pacific Ocean and the West Indies areas.
As Mr. Joseph says for his peoples, "This is our time."
For the first time, sacred teachings are collected in an anthology of stories shared by respected storytellers of each nation. These legends range from creation stories to naming stories. Four maps accompany the 100 photographs.
Pavilion Grand Opening - You'll be Surpised!
Complaints Were Minor
I do not care about a bit of lipsynching that was not "synched", or a single girder that did not fall into place around the indoor Olympic Cauldrin - the other three assembled and the flame still lit.
There was nothing incorrect about K.D. Lang singing Canadian Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah- what better song after a tragedy and a pulling together to go on in the honor of absent friends?
And the venue - should Vancouver have constructed another white elephant like the beautiful Bejing Summer Olympics Stadium that lay fallow and fell into disrepair six months after the Summer Olympics?
The spectators, staff, and athletes at the 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies experienced wonder under the eyes of the First Nations that welcomed them, inside out of the rain, and seated early in the stadium seats to enjoy the show - another first.
KD Lang barefoot, singing Hallelujah (another venue)
Inukshuk in the Wilderness
Canada recognizes three groups of Aboriginal Peoples: First Nations, Inuit, and Metis.
The Four Host First Nations created an Aboriginal Fashion Showcase Premier Designers’ Show for 5 days at the Aboriginal Artisan Village and Business Showcase on the college campus downtown of the Vancouver Community College, It began on the evening after the 2010 Opening Ceremonies. Three Aboriginal designers were honored and showcased at the event, including Angela DeMontigny, Dorothy Grant, and Pam Baker. Other featured First Nation designers include Kim Picard, Nadine Spence, Louie Gong, Tammy Beauvais, and Tracy Toulouse.
You see that not all Aboriginals of the Western Hemisphere have "strange" sounding names or are called Betty Walks in the Clouds or He Who Sings With the Robin, or something similar. Some First Nations peoples intermarried with Europeans and accepted Western names with their marriages. In the 2010 Opening Ceremonies, I was surprised and happy to see the Metis Nation presented as an official nation of people. With a heritage of mixed Aboriginal and European ancestry from the 17th Century forward, Metis had been looked down upon in previous decades in Canada and more so in the USA. Name-calling and harsher treatments were involved. Today, they are their own nation of people.
Inuit peoples farther away were also highlighted in the Opening Ceremonies as well. February 20 is Inuit Day, held in 2010 at the 2010 Aboriginal Pavilion at Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza, Vancouver. To dovetail with the Olympics Inukshuk logo, the theme of the Inuit Day presentation was The People Behind the Inukshuk. The Inuit, by the way, donated $90,000 to Haiti Earthquake relief in early 2010. They are also no longer called "Eskimos."
The Inukshuk is a traditional Inuit stone marker used in the wilderness for at least 3,000 years. It is a signpost to guide travelers, help hunters, provide a danger warning, and to indicate that food is available. Made of rough stones and slabs, it was chosen for the Olympics to symbolize hospitality, friendship, hope, and teamwork. This is what First Nations want.
- First Nations in British Columbia, Canada - Vancouver Island and BC Bands
The First Nations of BC trace their ancestry to the aboriginal people that inhabited the land prior to the arrival of Europeans and Americans in the late 18th century.
- Metis Nation British Columbia | MNBC
Develops opportunities for our Metis communities.
- Aboriginal Peoples of Canada's Yukon Territory
Several First Nations or Native North American groups have been living in the Canadian Yukon for many centuries. See what they are doing now!
Opening ceremonies and the most exciting winter Olympics ever with behind the scenes and up close and personal stories. 240 minutes, with behind-the-scenes footage. Bonus features, too.
The Ceremonies on Video and Online
- Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics | Olympic Videos, Photos, News
Games video highlights, photos, results, gold medals, medalists,athletes, schedule, news and greatest moments. 2010 Olympics
- Vancouver Olympic Games Medals Results Sports : Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics
Official source of Olympic Games tickets, merchandise, live results, medals, schedule, athlete bios, teams, tickets, news and photos for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics
Other Related Events
For some related Winter Olympic controversy in Ice Dance competition, see Aboriginal Dances In The Olympics - Vancouver 2010.