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> Monday, October 27th, 2008 > Opinion > The true cost of the 2010 Olympics
The true cost of the 2010 Olympics
Click here to read more Interrobang articles written by Darius Mirshahi
Published: Monday, October 27th, 2008
Now that the Beijing ‘Genocide’ Olympics are finished, China has passed the burden of having the whole world watching them over to Canada, our home on native land.
According to 2010Watch.com, an independent watchdog of the winter games, the city of Vancouver, and the B.C. and Canadian governments are investing nearly $6 billion into hosting the 2010 Olympics, hoping the games will bring tourists and capital flowing into this country and build up Canada’s reputation internationally. However, these games might just backfire on them.
With the world’s attention turned to Canada, the indigenous people of this land and their supporters will do to Vancouver what ‘Free Tibet’ and ‘Save Darfur’ activists did to Beijing; invite the world to see the reality of that country. And although it may shock you, the reality here is no different from there, in terms of social justice and environmental sustainability.
Just as the Beijing Olympics legitimized China’s repression of different indigenous peoples in China (including Tibetans), the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver are being used as justification for stealing more native land.
Just like China, vast amounts of our natural environment are being plundered for the development of Olympics-related infrastructure.
Just like Beijing, Vancouver is getting rid of ‘undesirables,’ passing laws that make it illegal to be homeless so that poor people must leave town or go to jail.
Just like China, Canada is exploiting thousands of workers as ‘cheap labour’ to build all the infrastructure.
Just like in Beijing, whole neighbourhoods of poor and low-income housing are being bulldozed in Vancouver to make way for high-end hotels and condos that only tourists can afford.
Just like China, Canada is using the Olympics as an excuse to drastically increase the size and power of police and army forces.
Just like Beijing, the Vancouver Olympics are sponsored by some of the biggest and most unethical multi-national corporations in the world.
But enough about China, the 2010 Olympics are about Canada.
So here are some facts. While Canada continues to close schools, cut social services, and is claiming there is not enough money to continue funding public medicare or build any more affordable housing, our same government is pumping billions of dollars into an event that can only be attended by the wealthiest Canadians.
These games are taking place on stolen native land. ‘British Colombia’ is still largely unceded, non-surrendered, indigenous territory. Unlike other provinces, British Colombia has not signed any treaties or made any agreements with the first nations peoples, yet they continue to colonize more and more land to this day by selling, leasing, and developing native land to corporations.
Instead of spending $6 billion on stealing native land, our government could spend a tiny fraction of it on maintaining it’s end of the bargain with native peoples and invest in Native communities, where living conditions are sometimes appalling.
First Nation or Third World? Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference as certain communities have gone without safe drinking water for years, and where the average life expectancy is often twenty years less than other people in Canada. In our racist system, native people suffer the highest rates of suicide, imprisonment, poverty, disease, and police brutality.
The 2010 Olympics will be one of the most environmentally destructive in history with tens of thousands of trees cut down and sacred mountaintops blasted to build ski resorts, hotels, and other infrastructure. The expansion of the sea-to-sky highway, connecting Vancouver and Whistler has poisoned the Fraser River, killing millions of wild salmon, and destroyed much of the black bears’ natural habitat.
This expansion and construction of infrastructure is also opening up large areas of what used to be untouched natural ecosystems to other industrial activities such as oil and gas drilling, forestry, and mining by big corporations who are making a killing while raping the land.
The Olympics are less than a year and a half away, but now’s the time to ask yourself a question: where will you and what will you be doing when the world is watching Canada? Are you going to let our government hide its crimes or will you show the world the Canada they’ve never seen before?