Bid must have Indigenous input
Treaty 7 Nations aim to be seen as partners as Calgary eyes the 2026 Winter Olympics
When Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics, Indigenous leaders say their communities’ participation amounted to a “token” role at the opening and closing ceremonies.
Three decades later, if Calgary bids for and wins the 2026 Winter Games, Indigenous groups say they want meaningful involvement. Cost concerns have dominated the conversation about the bid, but Indigenous communities are also raising questions about what their participation should look like, given that Calgary and Canmore, where the Games are proposed to take place, are on the traditional lands of Treaty 7 peoples.
The Treaty 7 chiefs — from the Tsuut’ina, Piikani, Siksika, Kainai, Chiniki, Bearspaw and Wesley First Nations — have all expressed support for Calgary’s bid. In September, they issued a statement encouraging members of their nations living in Calgary to vote “yes” in the Nov. 13 plebiscite that will gauge public support for the Games.
But Treaty 7 Chiefs Association CEO Anne Many Heads said there were concerns that the seven First Nations had not been consulted together. And leading up to the 1988 Olympics, Treaty 7 Nations were involved in “more or less of a token role,” making it important for governments to understand now that First Nations consultation cannot be an afterthought.
“The idea of consultation from a non-Native perspective is: we’ll break down people individually,” said Tsuut’ina Nation Chief Lee Crowchild. “We’ll divide them and that’s how we’ll conquer them to get the answer that we need.”
That’s why when the Treaty 7 chiefs got behind the Olympic bid, they emphasized the need for collective consultation.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action 91 specifically calls for host countries of events such as the Olympics to “ensure that Indigenous Peoples’ territorial protocols are respected” and make sure Indigenous communities are engaged in “all aspects” of planning and participation.
Read more at thestar.com/calgary
Tsuut’ina Nation Chief Lee Crowchild says the Treaty 7 Nations want to be seen as partners in a Calgary Olympic bid, not a group to be “checked off.”