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Should we say no to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver?

category north america / mexico | culture | interview author Wednesday January 23, 2008 22:19author by Linchpin - Common Cause Report this post to the editors

Linchpin talked to Rev from Sudbury about the 2010 Olympics and why he thought it was something anarchists in Ontario should also be mobilizing against.

The 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver are creating social turmoil; Vancouver is experiencing social unrest and opposition by Indigenous and anti-poverty activists. The Vancouver Police are being forced to use mounted units and riot police to defend every media event for the Vancouver Olympics committee. The opposition to the Olympics is breaking down old colonial barriers among activists, and teaching people how to work together to oppose corporate agendas, it is building a new solidarity.

There are a few simple reasons why this opposition makes sense:

1.The Olympics are taking place on unceded Indigenous (Native, Aboriginal, Indian) land. More than 75% of British Columbia is unceded native land that was never legally granted to the Canadian Government and therefore still legally belongs to the Indigenous people. Most land deeds in BC are non-existent before 1900. It is illegal for corporations or individuals to purchase or use native land without expressed consent. The majority of Indigenous nations are against the Olympics and sizable minorities amongst the supporting Bands are against the Olympics. Vancouver for instance is on traditional unceded Coast Salish people’s territory. Even though the government has admitted that BC should not exist legally, in the BC treaty/land claims process only 5% of BC is open to return to Indigenous people, therefore at least 70% of the province of British Columbia will remain stolen and occupied territory.

2.The Infrastructure and Ski Resort expansion necessary for the Olympics is destroying the traditional hunting territory of many indigenous nations and disrupting the ecosystems these ways of life rely on. The expansion of the Sea to Sky Highway is causing environmental damage to rivers and forested areas. The Secwepemc Native Youth Movement has been mobilizing against the ski resort of Sun Peaks in traditional territory. The same corporation that owns Sun Peaks stands to benefit from ski resort expansions for the Olympics.

3.The Olympics are forcing the dispersal and social cleansing of poor communities in Vancouver, specifically the marginalized and already victimized people in the Lower Eastside. Poor people are being increasingly harassed and made to feel unwelcome. Many of the poor in Vancouver are Indigenous people already displaced from their land and subject to the legacy of residential schools and other genocidal features of Canadian history. Much like Naomi Klein in her new book discusses how disasters can bring massive change; mega-events also bring the justification for massive social change at local levels that most people would not normally accept.

4.The Olympics are causing massive public debt. Any of the revenue goes to private companies not the public purse or the people who could use a few dollars. The Olympics are already over budget and the games haven’t even started yet. In an age where most people complain about taxes and public spending, we would rather throw money at a sporting event than give money to single mothers or the disabled.

The Olympics have always been a major spectacle that bring money to corporations and cost the poor their homes. The Olympics were resisted by many in Athens just as they have displaced many in China. Resistance to the Olympics has taken Intercontinental form already, this year there was an Indigenous People’s of the Americas Encuentro called by the Zapatistas and held in Vícam, Sonora. This land claimed by the Mexican state, that is traditional territory of the Yaqui. During this conference delegates from 67 Indigenous Nations from across the Americas declared opposition and a pledge of resistance against the Olympic Games in 2010 in support of the Nations being harmed by these games. Another topic discussed at this conference was violence against native women; in Canada for instance there are over 500 missing Aboriginal women, that's just about 1 for every year colonialism has been going on in the Americas with the arrival of Columbus. The Olympics has increased strains on Indigenous communities in British Columbia and because of the way racism, colonialism and sexism intersect Aboriginal women have been severely affected in many negative ways.

The groups opposing the Olympics are not only calling for a boycott of the Olympics, they are calling for opposition, prevention and disruption of the Olympics. With the support of activists, revolutionaries, rebels and rogues from across Canada the Vancouver Anti-Poverty Committee (APC), and the Native Youth Movement (NYM) are calling people to converge in Vancouver to disrupt and prevent the games from happening in response to the police and social repression it has caused and will continue to cause on poor, marginalized and oppressed communities. They are calling you to come and defend the land and poor neighborhoods of Vancouver from a corporate circus that brings them no direct benefit.

This struggle has already claimed the life of Harriet Nahanee, a well respect Indigenous elder from the west coast. Harriet rallied many youth and community members to oppose the expansion of the Sea to Sky highway because it was damaging wetlands and other traditional territories essential for the collective of traditional medicines. Also she wanted to protect the land for its own sake as something that must be respected as a giver of life. Harriet was jailed and during her incarceration contracted pneumonia and perished quickly after her release from prison. Her struggle and inspiration are a rallying point for many young Indigenous warriors who draw inspiration from her struggle.

The APC has initiated squatting campaigns to defend housing for the poor and mobilized against the police attacks on poor and racialized communities in Vancouver; while the NYM has both worked in the mountains and on the street protecting Indigenous people from racism and the on going colonial occupation of their lands. In February 2010, they are calling you and your friends to come to Vancouver and help them put an end to the Olympics.

Start planning now…. Homes Not Games! No Olympics on Stolen Land! Fuck 2010!

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