Complex context: Aboriginal participation in hosting the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games

This paper—published recently in Leisure Studies—is a collaboration between Jennifer Silver (University of Guleph), Zoe Meletis (University of Northern British Columbia), and myself. Jennifer’s work deals explicitly with Aboriginal politics, treaty-making, and access to coastal resources in British Columbia, Canada, and Zoe’s work contemplates justice issues related to tourism and coastal development in marginalized areas. My Masters research investigated how Aboriginal people in Vancouver, Whistler, and the surrounds were engaged in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games planning process. As the paper’s abstract explains:

In an effort to build understanding of diverse Indigenous experiences with the Olympics, we explore the relationship between the Vancouver Organizing Committee and the Four Host First Nations Society (FHFN). The research is grounded in theory that stresses the social influence and political nature of material–cultural landscapes. The article also connects important details from two disparate literatures: the politics and imagery of Olympic hosting, and the history and tensions surrounding Aboriginal sovereignty in British Columbia (BC). After discussing our methodological approach and reviewing this literature, we trace the formalisation of the FHFN and consider how protocol agreements guided its relationship with the Vancouver Organizing Committee. Next, we overview programmes that enlisted Aboriginal artists and entrepreneurs, highlighting how prominent additions to the material–cultural landscape were produced and overseen, and have since been discursively framed. The hosting relationship has resulted in benefits for some Aboriginal persons and businesses. However, it has also imprinted the landscape in ways that may (re)legitimise dominant political, economic and cultural objectives and perspectives over time. Thus, we question whether the relationship should be taken as a model for future Indigenous participation in the Olympics and/or as evidence of improved relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in BC.

You can view the paper at Taylor & Francis Online (requires a subscription).

Priya Vadi (Ph.D. candidate)

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