Squamish Nation doesnt support move
Two First Nations groups have hand-delivered an official complaint to the International Olympic Committee.
Members of the Neskonlith band and natives at the Sutikalh Camp (near Cayoosh Creek) filed the complaint June 21 to draw attention to what they claim are human rights violations against them and environmental concerns.
"The complaint basically is about respecting the environment and the indigenous human rights of our people," said Art Manuel, chief of the Neskonlith band.
But a spokesman for the Squamish Nation, which is directly involved in the 2010 Winter Games bid process, said the move is not supported.
"The Olympic bid itself is within our traditional territory," said chair of the Squamish council and hereditary chief Bill Williams.
"I dont think it is fair or right for these other groups who have issue problems within their own traditional territory, issues which they cant deal with in a responsible way to the benefit of their community members, to start picking on other groups or other organizations who are in fact working with First Nations."
Williams doesnt believe the complaint will have any impact on the IOCs awarding of the 2010 Games.
"All we have to do is stand up and voice our own concerns as to what is happening with regard to First Nations and the bid process and how in fact we are working together to get aboriginal contribution in the whole process," he said.
But Manuel said his concerns reach far beyond First Nations involvement in one event. He is concerned about the impact the Games will have down the road if many more tourists flock to B.C. to enjoy recreational activities promoted during media coverage of the event.
Manuel has led a protest at the Sun Peaks ski resort over the last year or so against a $70 million dollar expansion in territory his band claims traditionally belongs to them.
Protesters abandoned their Sun Peaks camp Dec.10 last year after RCMP moved in and served a Supreme Court injunction ordering its removal. Several people were arrested at the time.
Members of the Cayoosh Creek camp are protesting the development of a ski resort in the area. They also claim the development would be in land they have aboriginal title to.
"We have nothing against Olympic Games," said Manuel.
"But one of the things the IOC does do is review the records of how host cities and countries treat the environment and indigenous people and we want them to look at what is happening to us and how a Games might affect our lives."
The IOC has sent confirmation of getting the letter to Manuel, stating it will study the complaint.
Said Janice Billy spokesperson for the Skwelkwekwelk (Sun Peaks) protection Centre: "Our rights are not being recognized and we are being forcibly removed from our land and our human rights are being violated.
"And we feel that by having an Olympics in B.C. we would be advertising the expansion of the Sun Peaks resort and we dont agree with that."
Sam Corea, spokesman for the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation, said groups are free to make submissions to the IOC.
"This is all part of the process," he said.
"It is not unexpected that in Canada where we do have a free and open society that people do make their views known and we welcome these views and we are working as hard as we can . by having a bid that is inclusive."