IOC's false patriotism and disrespect of indigenous peoples

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As much as the patriotism lies disturbed me, what I understand happened with the indigenous peoples of Canada upset me even more. In Vancouver and area, we live in the unceded traditional lands of First Nations peoples. It is a wrong that has yet to be addressed while gross discrimination and injustice are still being acted out daily by the dominant society against aboriginals. First Nations peoples have every right to protest many wrongs

Cardinal said that the First Nations issue almost destroyed IOC in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Because IOC knew Canada’s First Nations peoples would leverage the same kind of power, it smartly got Gordon Campbell to befriend them in 2003. The peoples of the Squamish, Musqueam, Lil'wat and Tsleil-Waututh nations were the "Four Host First Nations" of the Olympics. Campbell did a 180 degree about face and suddenly showed great interest in native rights as soon as Vancouver won the Olympic bid. First Nations peoples were promised many things if they agreed to keep quiet and not protest indigenous issues like occurred in Sydney. It will take time to see if the monies used to buy their silent cooperation have any merit. The promises made will be hard to live up to and governments have a history of stalling until promises are forgotten. This dimension of the story has to be told.

As a white person who has spent over 30 years educating myself about Canadian aboriginal peoples’ culture and spirituality, I was shocked and saddened to see how they were used as window dressing during the Opening Ceremonies. I say this because I have a deep respect for and honouring of their sacred ceremonies and their dancing. To see this commodified for IOC’s benefit with the participants objectified and dehumanized as trivial entertainment deeply disturbed me. It was an example of the ignorance and disrespect that underlies the more subtle and sophisticated forms of racism today. During the International Women’s Day conference, Maori elder Hinewirangi Morgan described it well as “elegant racism”.


Photo by Beatrix Belibaste from Wikimedia Commons...Author's Note: I would like to acknowledge that I have not received permission from the Inuit peoples to use this representation of the Inukshuk symbol in this article. 


Another important example of elegant racism was the blatant misappropriation of the Inuit peoples’ Inukshuk symbol. The Olympic machine marketed an Olympic representation of the symbol for its sole profit. At no time did VANOC, IOC, or COC acknowledge that the figure was not theirs to profit from, nor am I aware of even any thanks they offered for using this symbol.

When IOC’s dominator energy came to Vancouver, it was not good for the people who were used, manipulated and reduced to puppet figures in IOC’s dark drama.

My next article will explore the "un-embrace" of social media and the purpose of Cultural Olympiads Digital Edition (CODE) during the Olympics.

It will also talk about the most important juice around the Olympics, which was not patriotism. HINT: How do you identify a real Canadian? If you whisper the “h” word, (s)he quivers…

Read more articles by Kathie.

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