VANCOUVER – Aboriginal and other leaders from across Canada joined the Four Host First Nations (FHFN) and the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) in downtown Vancouver today to unveil plans for the 2010 Aboriginal Pavilion.
“Today we salute the vision, the coming together and the outreach of our four Chiefs and our four communities,” said Tewanee Joseph, CEO of the Four Host First Nations. “We’d especially like to recognize the strong support we’ve received from VANOC, our federal, provincial and city government partners and the leaders of the Aboriginal communities of Canada.”
Centered on a 65-foot high inflated multi-media sphere, the pavilion will use the latest technology to showcase the diversity of Aboriginal art, business, culture and sport from across Canada. Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal visitors will enjoy this experience in the relaxed, informal setting of the Pavilion.
“This pavilion will be a place of pride for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians, a place to come together to celebrate our rich history and culture during the 2010 Games,” said Premier Gordon Campbell. “The traditional territories of our First Nations partners hold many wonderful stories, and we expect to experience many of them at this unique 2010 Aboriginal gathering place.”
“These are indeed ‘Canada’s Games’ made all the more so by the full participation of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada,” said Senator Gerry St. Germain. “For this reason, the federal government is pleased to be a partner with the Four Host First Nations Society and with VANOC, as the economic benefits of the Games will extend far beyond these traditional territories to the benefit of all Canadians.”
Special “theme” days will showcase Aboriginal groups from all regions of Canada. Live events will include Inuit throat singing, Métis jigging, hoop dancing, as well as spotlighting contemporary Aboriginal performances and other fields of achievement.
The event hosts are the FHFN Chiefs: Leonard Andrew, Lil'wat Nation; Ernest Campbell, Musqueam Nation; Bill Williams, Squamish Nation; and Leah George-Wilson, Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Other speakers on stage include Premier Campbell; Senator St. Germain, representing the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and the Honourable Gary Lunn, Secretary of State for Sport; National Chief Phil Fontaine, Assembly of First Nations (AFN); Mary Simon, President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK); Clément Chartier, President, Métis National Council (MNC); Mayor Gregor Robertson, Vancouver; John Furlong, CEO, VANOC; and Mr. Joseph.
Located on the plaza of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in downtown Vancouver, within easy walking distance of BC Place and GM Place, the 8,000 square-foot 2010 Aboriginal Pavilion will be right in the heart of Olympic activity, with Vancouver’s Celebration Site located immediately across Cambie Street.
“This plaza is in the heart of our city’s cultural district, and I am so proud that we’ve been able to provide space for the 2010 Aboriginal Pavilion at the QE Plaza,” said Mayor Robertson. “The Musqueam, the Squamish and the Tsleil-Waututh have been part of these lands long before we became a city, and I’m so pleased that together we will celebrate Aboriginal contributions here during 2010.”
VANOC CEO John Furlong said “The 2010 Aboriginal Pavilion is a true celebration of the partnerships that have been brought together in the spirit of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Our host First Nations partners have reached out to the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada to join them in showcasing the best of themselves to the world through the Pavilion, demonstrating that these indeed are Canada’s Games.”
In keeping with the Salish traditions, honoured guests were called upon to officially witness the event, including Squamish hereditary Chief Gibby Jacob, VANOC Board of Directors; Grand Chief Edward John, First Nations Summit; Grand Chief Matthew Mukash, Grand Council of the Cree; Grand Chief Andy Carvill, Council of Yukon First Nations; President Bruce Dumont, Métis Nation British Columbia; Kevin Mckay, Executive Chair, Nisga'a Lisims Government. FHFN partners from other regions of the country were not able to attend but conveyed their support.
The $3.5-million construction project, supported by VANOC and the FHFN, features a high-tech 3,000 square-foot sphere, surrounded by a Coast Salish Longhouse. The Longhouse, which features a 1,500 square-foot Trading Post, will be relocated after the Games as a permanent legacy. As well, the adjacent 2,000 square-foot QE restaurant will be converted into a Reception Hall, featuring Aboriginal exhibitry and cuisine.
“The 2010 Winter Games represent a turning point in our history,” said National Chief Fontaine. “For the first time in Olympic history, Indigenous Peoples are full partners in hosting these Winter Games and we will work closely with the four Host Nations to ensure there are lasting legacies for our people.”
“The Inuit of Canada are proud participants in 2010, and proud partners of the FHFN,” said ITK President Mary Simon. “We are keen collaborators in sharing the story of Aboriginal Peoples from across Canada with a world audience. It is with pride that Inuit stand with the FHFN in sharing the story of our culture, showing the world the people behind the Inukshuk.”
“Citizens of the Métis Nation are extremely proud of our culture, our heritage and the unique role we have played in building Canada,” said MNC President Clément Chartier. “During the Games, we invite the world to share in our arts and our culture at the pavilion stage, and to experience that pride first hand.”
“This Pavilion will be the Aboriginal gathering place at the biggest potlatch the world has ever seen –the 2010 Games – hosted here within our shared traditional territories,” said Squamish Chief Williams, Chair of the FHFN Board of Directors. “We’re welcoming the world, and this pavilion will be the place to experience the best in Aboriginal culture, business and achievement.”
“Most of Canada’s history has been written in hundreds of years,” said Lil’wat Chief Andrew. “Our peoples have shared these lands for thousands. We look forward to welcoming the world here for an authentic Aboriginal experience in 2010.”
“The people we see gathered here today in support of the FHFN Pavilion shows what can happen when we treat each other with mutual respect,” said Musqueam Chief Campbell. “We are proud partners in these Games, and appreciate that our First Nation, Inuit and Métis friends stand with us here today and will be a welcome part of this Pavilion.”
“This pavilion is our Longhouse. This is where we will welcome friends, family and visitors,” said Tsleil-Waututh Chief George-Wilson. “The Olympic focus on youth and on sport, combined with the experiences this pavilion will offer, will become a very positive story to be told and celebrated by many generations to come.”
The pavilion will open in February 2010 and run throughout the Winter Olympic Games.
Office of the Premier
Four Host First Nations
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