When the eyes of the world are focused to Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, the Aboriginal tourism industry has had a great opportunity, both to showcase the rich culture and heritage of Aboriginal peoples and to grow their businesses. Currently, the Aboriginal tourism industry employs more than 6,400 people across Canada.
In 1999, the International Olympic Organization (IOC) adopted Agenda 21: Sport for Sustainable Development, which includes the objective to “strengthen the inclusion of women, youth and Indigenous peoples in the Games”. However, Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games is the first time that aboriginals have been official partners in the Olympics and have been involved in every aspect of the Games starting from the bidding process.
The Vancouver Organization Committee’s (VANOC) goal has been unprecedented Aboriginal participation in the planning and hosting of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
“We’re working closely with our partners, including the Four Host First Nations, to encourage Aboriginal people across Canada to participate in as many areas of the 2010 Winter Games as possible, be it as athletes, volunteers, employees, entrepreneurs, artists and performers, spectators or cultural ambassadors.”
The diverse Aboriginal peoples of Canada were represented at a spectacular dance performance at the opening ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Every sport venue welcomes the visitors by an aboriginal figure and smiling athletes take home Olympic Medals featuring aboriginal art…
The Games have had a particular importance for Canada’s aboriginal peoples, as many of the events take place on their ancestral land. Despite all the potential positive attention on the aboriginal culture, many of British Columbia’s Aboriginals are considering the use of their land in some sense contradictory. Brandy Yanchyk points out “For many aboriginal artists, businesses and athletes the real test of the Vancouver Olympics will be if the inclusion and celebration of their cultures continue long after the Games are over.”
Text: Emily H?ckert
Image: David Gray