Vancouver Mayor Wants Indigenous Olympic Bid

By Ben Hamill - December 28 2020

Vancouver Mayor Wants Indigenous Olympic Bid

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart believes any future bid to bring another Winter Olympic Games to the city should be headed by Indigenous leaders. So passionate is Stewart about an Indigenous-powered Winter Olympic Games, that he’s named one of his conditions for supporting a Vancouver Olympic bid to be the central inclusion of the three Indigenous First Nations whose heritage and traditional territory includes the city of Vancouver. They are the Musqueam, the Squamish, and the Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

And according to Stewart’s state-of-the-city address to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, he’s already talked to the Nations and established that there is in fact an interest in his proposal from their side.

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No Formal Discussions Yet

But Khelsilem, who is a councillor with the Squamish Council has denied any knowledge or awareness of formal talks having been conducted about the possibility of leading a Winter Olympics bid. As such, said Khelsilem, no decision has been made about whether this is even something the First Nation would be interested in spearheading. Also notable is that no discussions at all have been entered into with the group’s neighbouring First Nations.

Before such time as a decision either way can be made, explained the Indigenous councillor, the pros and cons of such a bid would have to be weighed up in conversation with all relevant First Nation parties. Since hosting a competition or event the size of the Winter Olympics requires huge investments by federal as well as provincial governments, said Khelsilem, the anticipated advantages of an Olympic bid aren’t without certain drawbacks.

A definite drawback given current challenges in sport and around the organising of large events would be the possibility of last-minute postponements and cancellations. For this reason, Khelsilem said a lot of the actual workflow would first have to be figured out in terms of the distribution of responsibilities.

Been Done Before

The success of the 2010 Olympics was very much driven by First National involvement. At least 15 of the venues used for that year’s games spanned First Nation traditional land.

What the Four Host First Nations alliance did manage to create, explained Chief Gibby Jacob, was a common agenda. And according to Jacob, the alliance did an outstanding job of making a success of the 2010 Olympics, showing that four completely separate First Nations could work together as a single unit towards a common purpose.

Working together in this way showed true leadership, Jacob said.

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