A group of indigenous people prepares to bid to bring the 2030 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games to Vancouver, Canada. This would be the first time an Olympics had been hosted by indigenous peoples and could lead to further rapprochement with Canada’s First Nations.
When Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in 2010, the group was known as the “Four Host First Nations”.
Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh are from the area around today’s downtown Vancouver. Lil Watt is near the present-day village of Whistler, a famous ski resort about 120 kilometers north of downtown Vancouver.
They have signed a memorandum of understanding with the municipal governments of both Vancouver and Whistler to take the lead in bidding for the same Games in 2030.
The First Nations played a major role in the 2010 Games and during the opening and closing ceremonies.
Wilson Williams, a council member and spokesman for the Squamish Nation, recalls the Vancouver area hosting the Winter Games and how it brought together more than 300 Indigenous youth from across Canada to form what became known as “The Gathering”. .
He said that over the years, the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples has come into force and Canada has entered an era of reconciliation that includes historic human rights abuses committed against First Nations peoples.
Wilson said that the Winter Games in 2030 will allow the stories of First Nations peoples across Canada to be told.
“So I think, you know, there’s a real hunger to share stories of who we are, where we come from, you know, there’s always a political eagerness to share that landscape, but I think the real story is to create a story that is a vision for generations to come down the road,” he said.
Williams said hosting the Games would also set a healthy example for Indigenous youth and help build better relationships with non-First Nations Canadians.
“I think a First Nation, especially the Squamish Nation, is really trying to pave a healthy way for our future, and raising our “mun-mun” (children), we call it Our children call for success in the future. And to live in a strong, vibrant and harmonious way with their peers, not only with the First Nations community, but with the community at large, you know, and I think It’s something we’re going to be really proud of,” Williams said.
Salt Lake City, Utah, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 2002, is also vying for the 2030 Games. Other bids may follow.
Montreal-based lawyer Dick Pound, the longest-serving member of the International Olympic Committee and founding president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, says Los Angeles, California is set to host the Summer Games in 2028, likely is less. The states will be chosen for the 2030 Winter Games, increasing the chances of Vancouver’s First Nation-led bid being successful.
“It’s an indigenous issue that now resonates a lot more strongly internationally. And the IOC is certainly mindful of that. And of course, they’re aware of Vancouver getting involved by 2010. So, no, I don’t think it’s cute (a stunt) at all, I think it’s a really cool way to engage a significant part of the community, especially in BC (British Columbia),” Pound said.
The next step is for a formal cooperation agreement between First Nations and municipal governments, and then a feasibility study, which will detail the costs and sources of funding for the Games.
Hopefully this will happen in the next few months.
Almost all of the major venues still exist from the 2010 Games and will not need to be built.