Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Welcome To The World’s Biggest Potlatch!

A Potlatch is a big party hosted by one First Nations clan in honour of another and, according to Tewanee Joseph, the CEO of the Four Host First Nations Society (FHFN), this is exactly what the Vancouver 2010 Games will be – the world’s biggest Potlatch! The Games are being held within the traditional and shared territories of the Lil’wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, who have all been involved since early on in the bid process for the 2010 Games.
Since Vancouver was elected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in 2003, these Four First Nations have come together to coordinate their efforts around the Games, and have been an integral part of the planning process run by the Vancouver 2010 Organising Committee (VANOC).
"The Games provide an opportunity for Aboriginal peoples to showcase their cultures, their entrepreneurial spirit, to share a bit of us with visitors from across Canada and around the world. We are convinced the Games can be transformational – not just for Aboriginal peoples, but for the non-Aboriginal people of this country", said to Olympic.org Tewanee Joseph.
VANOC’s goal was to achieve unprecedented Aboriginal participation in the planning and hosting of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. They achieved this by developing strong relationships with Aboriginal peoples – First Nations, Inuit and Métis – and the support of their Partners. Aboriginal participation is a key element of our sustainability mandate and is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the value it brings to the Olympic Movement.
For instance, 4th annual corporate Vancouver 2010 Sustainability Report released last Wednesday by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) indicates:
  • Since 2003, Aboriginal businesses have received $56.7 million in contracts with VANOC; $5.9 million in this reporting period alone.
  • $56,460 contributed to the 2010 Aboriginal Youth Legacy Fund through the sale of official licensed merchandise.
  • Contracted 96 Aboriginal artists from across Canada to produce permanent installations as part of the Venues’ Aboriginal Art Program.