May 2, 2008

2010 -Hereditary Chief sets the record straight

A friend passed this on to me.  Expect for me "to set the record straight" again over this by the end of next week.


NORTH AMERICAN Indigenous Caucus Affirms
Support for Unprecedented Indigenous Participation
in 2010 Olympic Winter Games

Hereditary Chief Sets the Record Straight

By Grand Chief Edward John and
Lea Nicholas-MacKenzie

(Vancouver – March 6th, 2008): A meeting of Indigenous leaders and
activists preparing for an upcoming United Nations conference voiced
support for the Four Host First Nations continued work with the Vancouver
2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Organizing Committee (VANOC) to
achieve "unprecedented Aboriginal participation" in the 2010 Winter Games.

An excerpt from the resolution reads as follows: "Participants affirmed
their support for the unprecedented level of Indigenous participation in
the 2010 Olympic Games…."

Members of the North American Regional Indigenous Caucus were gathered in
Vancouver, in the traditional territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, to
prepare for the 7th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on
Indigenous Issues in April 2008.

On February 23, day two of the event, some caucus members introduced a
short text condemning the 2010 Winter Games, and linking the Games to the
death of an elder from the Squamish nation. Other members disagreed. As
the caucus operates through consensus, the co-chairs (Grand Chief Edward
John and Kenneth Deer) asked to hear from Coast Salish leaders from the
host First Nations.

Hereditary Chief Ian Campbell of the Squamish Nation welcomed the
delegates to the traditional territories of the Four Host First Nations
(FHFN), and thanked them for the important work they are doing on behalf
of all Indigenous Peoples.

Chief Campbell then took the opportunity "to set the record straight"
regarding the involvement of Coast Salish and Interior Salish Peoples in
the 2010 Winter Games.

The 2010 Winter Games are being held within the shared traditional
territories of the Four Host First Nations (FHFN) ~ the Lil'wat, the
Musqueam, the Squamish and the Tsleil-Waututh. The four have formed the
non-profit Four Host First Nations Society, and established the FHFN
Secretariat to coordinate their collective efforts as host Nations.

Chief Campbell said he is "working closely with Squamish Hereditary Chiefs
Bill Williams and Gibby Jacob to bring life to the vision of the late
(Squamish) Chief Joe Mathias, who insisted that the Coast Salish Peoples
must be full partners" in the 2010 Games. "We are not sitting idle. We
are not passive. We are not assimilated peoples," he said.

Chief Campbell, who was raised by his grandfather, explained that, as a
Hereditary Chief, he is responsible for bringing forward the traditional
knowledge and language of his ancestors, and adapting to a modern context
based on this strong cultural foundation.

The Chief further explained that the Squamish Nation used the opportunity
of the Games to raise awareness about their traditional territories,
protect their territories and develop wildlife management plans.

This included identifying the wild spirit places in the territories, and
informing the Organizing Committee that they could not undertake
development in those areas. He noted: "We didn't wait or ask permission
to protect our territories… and we will not ask for anyone's permission to
do business in our territories."

Interviewed after the event, Chief Campbell noted that "the United Nations
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples upholds the Indigenous
right to self-determination.

"When other Indigenous Peoples come to our territories and claim to speak
on our behalf, they are not respecting this fundamental right."

Tewanee Joseph, the Executive Director of the Four Host First Nations
Society, who attended the event with his two year-old son, added "our
whole focus for the Games is for our children. We are focusing on their
future and opportunities for them."

He also shared a message of being inclusive, and noted that "everything is
not perfect in British Columbia or in Canada. We have challenges every
single day as First Nations peoples. But the only way to resolve them is
by working together."

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Regional Chief Wilton Littlechild shared
his extensive experience with Olympic Games, and noted that the AFN has
signed an MOU to support the work of the four host nations.

"Since the Games in Calgary in 1988, the IOC and governments have learned,
and it is really quite incredible what is being done here," said Regional
Chief Littlechild. "These 2010 Games have, by far, the largest Indigenous
participation at every level."

Interviewed after the Caucus meeting, the Regional Chief said that: "Since
its inception, the AFN has fought at national and international levels for
the principle of respect for traditional territories. It is very
significant that the traditional and shared traditional territories of
these nations are being recognized and respected by the Olympic partners."

He added that "(the Four Host First Nations') partnership with VANOC and
the IOC, and your involvement in decision-making at the highest levels,
provides a model for harmonious relations between Indigenous Peoples and
other jurisdictions. The right to be involved in decision-making
processes regarding issues that may affect the territories, rights and
interests of First Nations Peoples is a principle that the AFN has firmly
asserted over the years."

The FHFN have signed a protocol with VANOC that formalizes the
relationship and sets a very high standard not only for participation, but
for true partnership. The protocol includes FHFN involvement in
everything from the opening and closing ceremonies to employment,
marketing and procurement. In addition to the protocol, the Squamish and
Lil'wat nations have negotiated legacy agreements which include many
benefits for the members of the nations.

During the caucus meeting, one participant stated that "a few Indians
dancing around in the Opening Ceremonies will not do anything for the
downtown east side."

In response, Chief Ian Campbell noted: "We are participating in every
aspect of these Games from the opening ceremonies to representation on the
VANOC Board of Directors."

"The opening ceremonies are important to us, and our songs and ceremonies
are very sacred. I don't want to hear anyone belittling them or
disrespecting them in our territories," said Chief Campbell. He added:
"Our songs are our laws and protocol. They are the land. I am a yuni-lead
singer responsible for our sacred songs. This is taken very seriously and
is a responsibility which my elders have bestowed on me."

Furthermore, regarding the initial draft resolution which linked the death
of a Squamish Nation elder to the 2010 Winter Games, the Chief explained
that he has spoken with the family, and they have asked that others cease
using her name and respect the Squamish Nation protocols.

"In our tradition we go into grieving for four years. We don't mention
the name of the deceased, or their ancestral names, until such time as
their memorial takes place. The family has asked me to ask those of you
who would use her name to respect this protocol," Chief Campbell said.

Following the discussion, caucus members agreed to develop a new text that
could be included in the meeting report. The resulting consensus text
(relevant 2010 Games text in bold) is as follows:

Participants affirmed their support for the unprecedented level of
Indigenous participation in the 2010 Olympic Games in British Columbia,
Canada. Participants also noted that the 2010 Olympic Games can provide
an important opportunity for Indigenous peoples and the world community to
promote human rights and address the human rights record and actions of
Canada on the local, provincial, national and international levels.

It should be noted that one of the principal reasons for Canada to vote
against the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was that
they opposed the provisions on indigenous rights to lands, territories and
resources (Article 26) and the principle of free, prior and informed
consent. Canada's and British Columbia's policies fail to recognize
Aboriginal title and Indigenous free, prior and informed consent.

"Participants also expressed outrage that indigenous persons and
activists, including indigenous elders who stand up for indigenous land
rights and assert their free, prior and informed consent are often
criminalized and jailed.

Hereditary Chief Campbell and other FHFN members expressed satisfaction at
the result after the meeting, stating that it is important that people
appreciate what is Games-related and what is not.

Chief Campbell noted that they had been looking for an opportunity to
counter the "misinformation being circulated" by non-Salish individuals
who are opposed to the Games and "falsely claim to speak for the
Indigenous people within whose territories the 2010 Winter Games will take

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For additional information, contact:

Grand Chief Ed John: 604.926.9903

Lea Nicholas MacKenzie: 778.327.5778


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