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Four Host First Nations may go private

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The Four Host First Nations Society may go into the future as a private, for-profit corporation, its executive director told Pique on Tuesday.

Tewanee Joseph, executive director and Chief Executive Officer of the Four Host First Nations and a member of the Squamish Nation, said in an interview that the society's board will have a meeting later this month and is looking at moving from a non-profit society to a corporation in order to enhance economic opportunities for the member nations.

"I think there's business lines we need to work out," he said.

The Olympics took place on the traditional territory of the Four Host Nations, the Squamish, Lil'wat, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh.

Speaking about the Olympics themselves, Joseph said they were an "unbelievable" experience for First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples across Canada.

The Four Host First Nations represented the first time that aboriginal peoples have been official partners in the organization of an Olympic Games. Squamish Chief Gibby Jacob sat on VANOC's board of directors and Canada's aboriginal population played a prominent role in the opening ceremonies, dancing a welcome for the Olympic athletes as they arrived in B.C. Place Stadium on Feb. 12.

The Four Host First Nations also organized a pavilion on the plaza of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Downtown Vancouver. Designed to emulate a hybrid of the longhouse and pit house structures, it hosted 242,000 people throughout the Olympic Games, while an artisan showcase at Vancouver Community College's downtown campus hosted 85,000 spectators.

"It was beyond our wildest dreams and I've never felt so much pride," Joseph said. "Not only in our people, but in all of Canada."

From here on in, Joseph expects the Four Host First Nations Society to act as a kind of interloper for First Nations in terms of promoting them to the public and seeking economic opportunities.

He said the society is looking to focus on four areas in the future: communications, branding and marketing, 3D physical experiences and economic development.

As for the impact of the Games themselves, he said they've been instrumental in promoting the four Nations.

"I believe it's made our culture more accessible," Joseph said. "I think for too long, people were afraid or maybe did not know how to approach First Nations people. We've always been hosts on our lands, many people I talked to said it was so nice to be our neighbours.

"That's the impact I've seen over the course of the Games. Our culture's more accessible, people are not afraid to approach our people anymore and I think we've broken down those barriers."

The future of the society is up in the air at the moment. Joseph expects that it will be dissolved in its current form within the next four to five months while it finishes off some reports and audits. He hopes to stay on as executive director but that's ultimately the decision of the board.

"My time was up to the end of the Games time," he said. "It'll be up to the board as to what they want to do. If they want to move into a corporate entity, that's something we have to discuss at the board meeting as well."

 

 

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