Vancouver Olympic Ceremonies: Where was the cultural diversity?

Winter Olympics invited countries from around to the world to multicultural Vancouver, but cultural diversity was missing in the Opening and Closing ceremonies.

Apparently the opening ceremonies did feature performers of cultural diversity.  But we missed it.

before the televised official opening… (“Miss Jully Black to the back
of the bus please”)… not “Canadian” enough to be televised…. and
February is Black History month in Canada!

Read Vancouver Sun Pete McMartin's review of the opening ceremonieshttp

The Closing Ceremonies were promised to include more French content,
and to feature Canadian humour and myth-busting of Canadian stereotypes.

Vancouver's cultural diversity was represented in the hundreds of
jumping Grade 9ers holding snowboards in the opening sequence.  My
First Nations 2nd cousin was there – his mother was very proud.  But
all the featured performers were White – with the exception of K-OS. 
And most of the volunteer performers of colour were dressed as hip-hop
dancers, instead mounties, lumberjacks and hockey players.  Because
there are no Asian hockey players in the NHL – but that's another
Canadian Myth that's been busted since Larry Kwong played one game in
the NHL in 1948, 10 years before Willie O'Ree became the first black
hockey player in 1958.

A Few days later the same Pete McMartin quoted Tung Chan in an opinion piece –
Opinion – An Olympic Games as white as snow

But read the comments to the above piece, or to Craig Takeuchi's pieces in the Georgia Straight.
2010 Olympic closing ceremony: Why wasn't there any aboriginal content?

Vancouver 2010 Olympics: The Great White, er, Multicultural North?

Despite all the crowd cheering, street filling patriotism, when Canada
wins a gold medal hockey game, there is still a dark anonymous racism
that haunts all the internet comments, and rears its head at any hint
of “affirmative action” or ethnic inclusion.

This is the next story.   This is the next stage of insight. 

The aim of the Closing ceremonies was to have some fun, poking fun at
Canadian stereotypes, and doing some “myth busting.”  But one of the
myths that got reinforced is that Canada is White.  Despite generations
of immigration from all around the world, Canada cannot find a
performer of colour good enough to speak at or perform at and during
the Closing ceremonies. 

Would it have hurt Canadians if one of the chorus line lumberjacks,
mounties, or hockey players had been a shade of colour other than
white?  Would we have heard a chorus of boos, if one of the mounties
had worn a turban?

We know that racial discrimination in sports can be cruel to kids growing up, so it can't be
a wonder why our top athletes are mostly White.  But we have succeeded in
the Arts.

Where was Indo-Canadian comedian Russell Peters?
Canadians of multi-ethnicity are cool and sexy.  What better examples
do we have than actors Kristin Kreuk of Smallville?  or Lisa Ray of
Bollywood?  Even Keanu Reeves primarily grew up in Toronto, despite
being born in Lebanon – but we didn't hold Steve Nash's birthplace of
South Africa against him.

First Nations actors Graham Green and Tantoo Cardinal were good enough
for “Dances with Wolves” but not for the Closing Ceremonies?  And
Tantoo just received her Order of Canada too…

Our authors Joy Kogawa, Thomas King are amongst the most studied
authors in our Canadian high schools, colleges and universities. Wayson Choy and 7th generation descendant of Black Loyalists
George Elliot Clarke are also amongst our most loved – these four authors also are Order of Canada recipients.

We are not saying that Canada should enforce racial inclusivity
guidelines for its sports teams.  But we are saying that the closing
ceremonies lacked the representation of Canada's population, and it
reinforced every sad stereotype of Canada.  Alongside the Mounties,
lumberjacks, beavers and moose was the sad realization that Canada is
only populated by White people, despite multi-generations of accepting
people from all over the world.

And where are the bagpipes?

Canada's first Prime Minister, BC's first Premier, and Vancouver's
first mayor were all born in Scotland.  Has the former largest ethnic
group of Vancouver so much assimilated into mainstream culture, that
they have forgotten their ethnic roots?

The SFU Pipes and Drums is the six time and current World Champion pipe
band.  There are more bagpipers in Canada then there are in Scotland –
or is this a Canadian myth that we are not proud of?

Bagpipers have performed with Uzume Taiko, and Delhi 2 Dublin, – two
internationally recognized examples of cultural fusion music happening
in Vancouver.  To me, these are the examples of performers that should
have been featured at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, demonstrating
how Canadians have come from all over the world, put aside our racial
differences, and blend our cultures, and our shared our histories

This is the Canada that I am proud of – not the beer swigging garage
band party music that was featured – without any relevance to the
historic Olympic successes that we witnessed over the past 17 days

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

− one = 8