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No 2010 Olympic Games on sovereign Lil'Wat Territory!

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  • Ishgooda, Senior Staff
    Drums of triumph? Not necessarily The aboriginal leaders cheering Vancouver s IOC win don t speak for all their people By NAOMI KLEIN Wednesday, July 16, 2003
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 17, 2003
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      Drums of triumph? Not necessarily
      The aboriginal leaders cheering Vancouver's IOC win don't speak for
      all their people
      By NAOMI KLEIN
      Wednesday, July 16, 2003 - Page A13 Globe & Mail


      In sports, as in life, "security" trumps peace.

      That's what happened when the International Olympic Committee faced a
      choice between Pyeongchang, South Korea, and Vancouver for the 2010
      Winter Games.
      South Korea pitched itself as the peace candidate: With the world in
      turmoil, bring the Games to the very border of George Bush's "axis of
      evil" as a gesture of reconciliation.
      Vancouver, on the other hand, sold itself as the safety and security
      candidate: With the world in turmoil, hold the Games somewhere you can
      be almost certain that nothing will happen. The Vancouver-Whistler
      Olympic bid presented British Columbia as a model of harmonious,
      sustainable living, a place where everyone gets along: native and
      non-native, rural and urban, rich and poor. But two weeks after the
      euphoric celebrations, the new-age sheen on Vancouver's harmony sales
      pitch is already wearing off.

      "I'm going to stop them," Rosalin Sam of the Lil'wat Nation told me.
      "I'll lay in the path of the machines if I have to. I have to protect
      our land." Ms. Sam is referring to the planned construction of the
      Cayoosh Ski Resort on Mount Currie, a 90-minute drive from Whistler,
      the heart of the Olympic competitions.
      Mount Currie is pristine wilderness, a habitat for bears, deer and
      mountain goats. It is used as a traditional native hunting ground, as
      well as a source of teas, berries and medicines for the 11 native
      bands who claim it as their territory. "Some people go to church, we
      go to the mountain," Ms. Sam says.
      Her objection is not to the Olympic Games themselves, but to the role
      the Games are already playing in the transformation of B.C.'s economy.
      With resource industries such as fishing and logging in crisis, the
      Games are being positioned as a 17-day, globally televised commercial
      for B.C.'s new economy: winter tourism.

      With some of the best skiing in the world, B.C. is already a major
      tourist destination. But the political and economic forces behind the
      Olympics want more: massively expanded ski hills, new resorts on
      undeveloped mountains, hotels, and roads connecting them all. We
      aren't talking about "leave only footprints, take only pictures"
      eco-tourism here; these are industrial-scale vacation factories.
      And that's the trouble. Most of this expansion is reaching into land
      that is claimed by B.C.'s First Nations -- claims that have never been
      ceded under any treaty and which were affirmed in the landmark Supreme
      Court of Canada Delgamuukw decision in 1997.
      According to Taiaiake Alfred, director of the indigenous government
      program at the University of Victoria, "Tourism can be as disruptive
      as logging or mining." Mountains are carved up for ski runs, wildlife
      is driven away, and towns are turned into parking lots. "The real
      money," Mr. Alfred says, is in "speculative real estate." In Whistler,
      local agents boast that real estate value has gone up by 15 per cent
      every year for the past 15 years.
      For all these reasons, ski resorts have become one of the most
      explosive political issues in British Columbia. Three years ago, when
      the Lil'wat Nation held a referendum on whether or not its members
      approved of the Cayoosh Ski Resort, 85 per cent voted no. To block
      resort construction, they set up a protest camp supported by all 11
      chiefs of the St'at'imc Territory.

      A proposal to expand the Sun Peaks Ski Resort from 4,000 to 24,000 bed
      units has encountered even fiercer opposition. Police have clamped
      down on the Native Youth Movement's road blockades and protest camps,
      jailing many of the leaders, and repeatedly demolishing dwellings and
      sweat lodges.
      Now that Vancouver has won its Olympic bid, the snow fights will only
      escalate. Though Cayoosh and Sun Peaks are not part of the official
      Olympic facilities, they both stand to benefit directly from the
      tourist spillover. Former Olympic skier Nancy Greene Raine, a powerful
      board member on Vancouver's Olympic Bid Committee, is also director of
      skiing at the Sun Peaks Resort. Her company, NGR Resort Consultants,
      is the developer behind the proposed Cayoosh Resort.

      According to Arthur Manuel, former chairman of the Shuswap Nation
      Tribal Council and former chief of the Neskonlith Indian Band, there
      is a deep split emerging in first nations communities. On one side are
      chiefs and entrepreneurs who see the Olympics as an opportunity -- a
      new community centre in Squamish, some affordable housing, a chance to
      sell Haida art. On the other is a growing grassroots movement of
      people who still hunt and fish and see industrial-scale tourism as a
      threat to their very survival.
      "Indian people are the poorest of the poor. Families get $165 a
      month," Mr. Manuel says, referring to the high percentage of native
      people on social assistance. "They are the ones -- not the chiefs --
      who are dependent on hunting. More tourism is going to take food off
      their tables and they are going to end up on Hastings [the heart of
      Vancouver drug district] because that's what happens when you force
      Indian people off their land."

      These types of security issues seem to have been lost entirely on the
      IOC. Rather than consulting all the bands whose people will be
      affected by the Games, the bid committee handpicked a few
      development-friendly leaders to play along, ignoring the rest.
      Submissions to the IOC by native groups that opposed the Games
      received no response. "The IOC didn't follow protocol, they should
      have called a meeting of all 11 chiefs so the chiefs could go the
      people. This structure has been there for hundreds of years," Ms. Sam
      says.
      Yesterday, Ms. Sam and Mr. Manuel, representing the opponents of the
      Cayoosh and Sun Peaks Resorts, took their fight to another level.
      Proclaiming that "whoever supports the 2010 Games in
      Vancouver-Whistler violates the internationally recognized rights of
      indigenous people," they sent out a press release calling on "the
      international world, including athletes and tourists, not to infringe
      on our rights and title, and stay away from the 2010 Games."
      The Vancouver Olympic Bid Committee saw this coming, and warned in its
      internal documents of the need to get at least some first nations
      leaders on side. "If the first nations perceive that their rights are
      not being acknowledged and accommodated by British Columbia, they may
      go to the media, take direct action or initiate litigation. This would
      have a negative impact on the bid."
      No surprise, then, that the bid committee started its sales pitches
      with a traditional first nations blessing. Look forward to many more
      such displays of cultural sensitivity, culminating in the sound of
      drums and the smell of sweet grass at over-the-top Olympic opening and
      closing ceremonies (think Sydney and Salt Lake City). But don't
      confuse these ceremonial blessings with genuine political consent.
      These Games are far from blessed.

      References
      0. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20030716/CONAOMI16/TPColumnists/
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