assures closing ceremony will reflect everyone
groups, francophone leaders complained of opening ceremony snub
Shore , with files from
Lindsay Kines, Vancouver Sun; with files from Canwest News Service
Olympic CEO John Furlong will not make changes to the closing ceremony of the
Winter Olympic Games despite complaints from leaders of the city's ethnic
groups about the content of the opening ceremony.
members of some ethnic communities — including Sukhi Sandhu and S.U.C.C.E.
S.S. chairman Peter Kwok — had complained that the opening ceremony omitted a
crucial aspect of Canadian life, the culture mosaic and the role of immigrants
in Canadian society.
an anti-racism activist and community volunteer who lives in Surrey ,
wrote to Furlong seeking a meeting with the Vancouver Organizing Committee to
air their concerns, but four days later Sandhu has no reply.
and others had hoped that visible minorities could be better showcased in the
stressed Wednesday that the closing ceremony is already planned and that it
will leave little doubt about “who we are and who is here.”
telling the story of a country made up of people from all over the world is a
complex task, but the opening ceremony did a good job of reflecting
feel like having a good cry,” said Sandhu. “We are surprised that it
takes this much energy to bring some common sense to people.”
not going to call any more, I'm not going to beg,” Sandhu said.
opening ceremony included strong first nations participation both in the show
and the dignitaries box. Four local first nations chiefs sat as heads of state
to welcome the world along with Canada 's
Gov.-Gen. Michaelle Jean and Premier Gordon Campbell.
show contained little to represent the country's other major ethnic groups,
Heritage and Official Languages Minister James Moore, Liberal leader Michael
Ignatieff and Quebec Premier Jean Charest complained that the ceremony didn't
include enough French language content.
Commissioner of Official Languages Graham Fraser will be investigating the
complaints, but because his mandate only allows him to probe federal institutions,
he will confine his investigation to Moore 's
heritage ministry, according to an e-mail sent to Canwest News Service by
will release a preliminary report on the level of bilingualism at the Games
following their conclusion.
complaints hinge on the $20 million in funding that Heritage Canada gave to the
Vancouver Organizing Committee for the opening ceremony, the most-watched
televised event in Canadian history.
is an agreement between the federal government … and Vanoc that came with a
certain amount of funding,” said Robin Cantin, a spokesman for the
language commissioner's office. “And that agreement came with some
College sociologist Indira Prahst will watch the
closing ceremony carefully for signs of respect to
Canada 's visible minorities, but
she is not satisfied with Vanoc's response to complaints.
want to be blunt: This should have been addressed at the very outset,” she
said. “We should have showcased our diversity. Is this just a quick
response meant to pacify the community?”
really not enough,” she said. “I told Sukhi and the others that they
were unrealistic to expect major changes [to the ceremony] because there is so
much work, planning and technology that goes into it.”
they could have a person from a visible minority speak.”
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver
More visible minorities at closing, VANOC
Last Updated: Thursday, February 18, 2010
| 9:26 AM PT
VANOC CEO John Furlong is hinting
Canada 's racial
diversity may be better represented in the closing ceremony of the Winter
Olympics after criticism that ethnic minorities were mostly missing from the
With its large South Asian and Chinese
communities, Metro Vancouver is one of
Canada 's most diverse regions.
Forty-one per cent of residents are part of visible minorities. But none of
that diversity appeared in the big show that opened the 2010 Winter Games on
Feb 12, critics say.
'We can't force ourselves on VANOC
if they don't welcome us.' — Charan
Gill, CEO of Progressive Intercultural Community Services
Canadian-born Sukhi Sandhu wrote a letter
to Furlong, saying Olympic organizers missed an opportunity during the final
torch-lighting ceremony “to represent our nation's diversity.”
Sandhu said he and his family are proud
Canadians and excited to attend events at the Games, but he was disappointed
visible minorities were excluded from key roles during the opening ceremony.
“If I look at the eight individuals
who carried the Olympic flag and the final torchbearers, who are all rightfully
outstanding Canadians — no one is disputing that — however, out of
13 people there isn't one outstanding visible minority that you could think of
— David Suzuki, Donovan Bailey, Jerome Iginla or Daniel Igali,”
Closing ceremony could offer more
It is not the first time the opening
ceremony has been criticized for its lack of diversity. Federal Heritage
Minister James Moore said earlier this week that “there should have been
On Wednesday, Furlong defended the opening
ceremony but hinted the closing on Feb. 28 will be different.
“We did a very good job of showing
Canada and we
had a goal to tell a story, and at the closing ceremony … we will have a
very certain kind of celebration, and I don't think you'll have any doubt when
the ceremonies are over who we are and who's here.”
Sandhu said he doesn't want to just see
bhangra dancers or hear drumbeats. He wants to see accomplished visible
minorities represented in the closing ceremony.
“Our nation is a cultural mosaic, and
our diversity is our strength and frankly I am surprised in 2010 we need to
continue educating our leaders on this Canadian value,” he wrote.
“There is no shame or justifiable reason to not showcase this significant
part of our nation’s identity.”
His concerns are echoed by Peter Kwok, the
chairman of the immigrant services organization SUCCESS, which provides
services for new Chinese Canadians.
“You know we have Chinese New Year,
just a few days ago and when attending all those New Year's celebrations I have
been chatting with people and I've heard from quite a few people that they,
too, feel that it was a spectacular show,” Kwok said. “And they only
wish that they had a bit more portrayal of the multiculturalism in
Charan Gill, the CEO of the Progressive
Intercultural Community Services, an immigrant organization based in
Surrey , B.C., said he tried to reach out to VANOC to
encourage more visible minorities to get involved and volunteer for the Games
but got no response.
“We can't force ourselves on VANOC if
they don't welcome us,” he said.
Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/02/18/bc-visible-minorities-olympic-ceremonies.html#ixzz0fuevX1Y4