Stories critical of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Opening Ceremonies are in Vancouver Courier and Georgia Straight blogs.
Vancouver Courier: Allen Garr's
Much is continuing to be written about the Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremonies that took place with great hoop-lah on Friday February 12th, in BC Place Stadium. Yes, there were the Four Host Nations welcoming the world to their ancestral (and unceded) lands. Yes, there were Canadian Aboriginal peoples from all across the nation, dancing and drumming, while Bryan Adams and and Nelly Furtado took the spotlight and sang a new Adams' song “Beat the Drum.”
And then…. a show that has brought complaints from across the country, as Federal Minister James Moore has said “there wasn't enough French-Canadian content.”
Even Quebec Permier Jean Charest, as he sat next to
VANOC CEO John Furlong at a news conference Monday said, “Not at the level we were expecting,” said “It wasn’t
I admit that enjoyed watching the show. And my girlfriend and I watched
it twice… but we were also playing video and computer games during
the second time.
But we cannot ignore that so many people are
speaking out, and to so is to risk great peril. Clearly there is a
schism in the understanding of what make's us Canadian… as understood
by new immigrants of both Asian and Celtic origins, as well as
multi-generational Canadians of First Nations, Asian, Celtic, Gaelic,
British, French and European heritage.
Maybe like at Expo 67, we are discovering the point of how we see ourselves in the world, and in our own country.
especially liked Shane Koyczan's poem. He is indeed addressing the
values that push us to do better, to be more inclusive, and to always
try harder – just like my personal hero Terry Fox, who is very dear to
me, as I hold the SFU Terry Fox gold medal, as a recipient “for courage
in adversity and dedication to society.”
Remember what happened after the Closing Ceremonies in Turin?
Premier Gordon Campbell criticized Turin closing ceremony display by
saying, “I thought there were lots of stereotypes that are not what the
new Canada is.” http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html?id=8a6a6c72-05f7-4a8d-91a1-60f2ebe27219&k=96687
I too understand that we cannot please everybody all the time, and that
some cultural groups will cry foul. But my experiences are also tainted
by growing up in a deliberate exclusion of systemic racism, where my
born-in-Canada grandmother could not vote in this country until after
her brothers and cousin had been reluctantly accepted into the Canadian
Forces due to pressure from Great Britain, and then sent on “Suicide
Missions” to be behind enemy lines in Burma.
For these reasons
I knew it was important to help save Joy Kogawa's childhood home from
demolition, where she was forced to leave at age 6 due to internment of
For these reasons, I know it is important
to support my cousin Chief Rhonda Larrabee whose mother's people had
their ancestral lands taken away from them, to create BC's first
capital city of New Westminster. And then to add insult, had their
reservation taken away, and their band name of Qayqayt was said to not
exist, because the people didn't live there anymore.
If we don't
speak out on these issues, now – then it is like the silence that
watches the Japanese Canadians put on trains and sent away, or like
knowing that First Nations children are in Residential schools. We know
something is wrong, but dare not speak.
I have tried to embrace
this country and it's foibles, despite hating the bagpipes when I was
little because it represented Colonialism. I speak better french, then
I do Chinese.
I understand the the Ceremonies wanted to emphasize “The Land” rather than the cultural diversity. Even Margaret Atwood's great book “Survival” argues that there is indeed a distinct Canadian literature, with its own preoccupations, themes, and ideas specific to its history, geopolitics, and landscape.
But that was so 20th Century… Now in the 21st Century, it is about the geopolitics, our cultural diversity, and our place in the global world.
Yes John Furlong has done and amazing job with
VANOC. It is a very challenging, almost impossible task – But John
Furlong's terrible french pronounciation seems to be an apt metaphor
for VANOC's ceremonies team of understanding and including Canada's
multicultural history and culture.
But come on VANOC…. We Are More!!!!