Saturday, December 5, 2009

Unfair Olympia treatment of Native Canadians

Racism and imperialism at the Vancouver Olympia Organizing Committee?

Imagine you own a business logo or a symbol that was used for centuries in your country and by your ancestors. One day a “foreign association” comes along and uses your logo/symbol in order to generate a lot of money with your intellectual property – without even asking you or paying you any royalty.
Would you sue them? Or just give in and watch how they rake in millions with your symbol?

Another scenario:
You are a young artist and you are to perform at the “foreign association’s” opening ceremony of a worldwide event. The rights to broadcast at this event are sold for mega millions to TV and radio stations all over the planet.

However, before you can perform you have to sign a five pages long contract that says:
  • You will not be paid for your performance at the opening ceremony
  • Your are a volunteer
  • You have NO rights to revenues for you artistry
  • You have to bring your dancing regalia and drums to the event at your own cost
  • You must send a photo of yourself in your dancing outfit
  • You are bussed in to entertain white people. After that, go home to your reservation! And don’t even think that you can stay in the city and enjoy any sport events...
Unfair you say?
Well, that’s exactly how the VANOC, the Vancouver Organizing Committee treats the artists that perform for them.
Big press releases tout Native Canadians as hosts, friendly welcomes of native chiefs are printed.
Former National Chief Fontaine was very polite (or erred) with his welcoming words years ago and for sure he did not know the content of the contracts then. He said:

“The 2010 Winter Games represent a turning point in our history. For the first time in Olympic history, Indigenous Peoples are full partners in hosting these Winter Games and we will work closely with the four Host Nations to ensure there are lasting legacies for our people.”
Lil’wat Chief Andrew added:
“Most of Canada’s history has been written in hundreds of years. Our peoples have shared these lands for thousands. We look forward to welcoming the world here for an authentic Aboriginal experience in 2010.”
(from VANOC's website).

Despite all this cant, the Olympic organizers use native land, their art, symbols, music and performances to make a lot of money.

Searching VANOC’s website for the Aboriginal Youth Gathering and their performance at the opening ceremony, it says: "Sorry, we could not find any matches for "Aboriginal Youth Gathering"

Symptomatic ??? Or just an error of the webmaster?

BTW: Canada and the United States are the only countries that refuse to sign the UN's Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples!