Bid must have Indigenous in­put

Treaty 7 Na­tions aim to be seen as part­ners as Cal­gary eyes the 2026 Win­ter Olympics

StarMetro Calgary - - NEWS - MADE­LINE SMITH

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

MADE­LINE SMITH/STARMETRO 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.”

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