Aboriginal support for the Olympics was alive and well in Whistler last week as representatives from B.C. First Nations and Aboriginal tourist operators gathered to launch a new initiative, "Welcome the World to experience Aboriginal tourism and culture during the 2010 Winter Games."
The announcement was made during the Winter Weetama Festival by chair of Aboriginal Tourism B.C. Richard Krentz.
"We are calling to action all Aboriginal tourism and culture businesses to get ready for the 2010 Winter Games," said Krentz. "This invitation to the world is a historical event where First Nations and Aboriginal tourism businesses are working together to celebrate our diverse cultures from throughout the province, while growing our tourism industry.
"We intend to promote and build awareness not only provincially, but also globally, about British Columbia's Aboriginal tourism industry," Krentz told an audience of representatives from Lil'wat Nation, Squamish Nation, along with politicians, tourist organisations, local residents and international visitors.
"Aboriginal Tourism British Columbia is committed to building awareness, forming partnerships and maximizing economic opportunities in areas of the province that are not normally in view of mainstream tourism our regional and rural communities throughout the province," Krentz said. "This is a great opportunity to showcase our culture and send a loud Welcome to the World."
Chief Clarence Louie from the Osoyoos Indian Band said, "Aboriginal tourism is good for B.C. because it instils pride of nation within our First Nations communities."
Tourism Whistler, in partnership with Celebration 2010, hosted the Winter Weetama Festival March 1-3 as a preview for the third annual Weetama Aug. 8-17, 2003.
Winter Weetma events included an Aboriginal Showcase of traditional song and dance, Learn Our Ways ancient legends and artisan workshops, and a Carving Demonstration featuring Mount Currie carver Carl Sam. Saturday evening's Rhythm, Spirit & Soul showcased Juno Award nominee Marcel Gagnon, with special guest Alex Wells, the 2001 and 2002 World Champion Hoop Dancer.