On the Eve of the Winter Olympics, Everything in Canada Ain’t Pretty

By Jamilah King Feb 09, 2010

Looks like athletes and fans won’t be the only ones converging on this year’s Winter Olympic games, which kick off this Friday in Vancouver. A sizable contingent of native protesters will also be on hand to speak out against the games being held on indigenous lands. Not a good thing, despite some deeply troubling anthropological assertions to the contrary. From Mostlywater.org:

[Kanahus] Pelkey, a spokesperson for the Native Youth Movement (NYM), explained that NYM is opposing the Olympics not only because of unresolved land claims issues, but also due to the threat the Olympics poses to the local land and low-income communities in the city. Sun Peaks Ski Resort recently completed a $284-million expansion project that, according to Pelkey, has destroyed land off of which many indigenous people live. “Sun Peaks Resort has violated our basic human rights, and there have been more than 70 arrests of native people who want to prevent the expansion or take back the land,” Pelkey said.

Activists have been organizing against the games since 2002 when the St’at’imc and Secwepemc Nations officially lodged a complaint with the International Olympic committee to oppose the bid. Now they’re calling for international solidarity. And wherever there are folks of color protestors, police are sure to follow. Sports journalist Dave Zirin reported in this week’s column that police in Vancouver are already cracking down on progressive journalists and activists covering the event. Martin Macias, Jr. , a 20-year-old reporter with Chicago’s Radio Arte, was detained by Canadian border agents, questioned for seven hours and then deported — but not before being ordered to pay $1,300 to deport himself back to the Windy City. Two delegates were also allegedly detained and questioned as they made their way to an indigenous assembly happening in opposition to the games. As the games go on and the protests heat up, the repression is sure to escalate. Stay tuned. Photo credit: Mostlywater.org