Statement by Art Manuel on 2010 Olympics and Torch Relay
The Olympic Torch Should Be Put Out
Canada is using the Olympic Torch Relay to hide their terrible human rights record in regard to Indigenous Peoples here in Canada and Internationally.
Canada voted against the United Nations Declaration on Rights of the Indigenous Peoples on June 26, 2006 at the Human Rights Council and in September 13, 2007 before United Nations General Assembly.
143 State Governments voted in favour of the Declaration of the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples. Canada in this regard is offensive to Indigenous
Peoples internationally. They are using money and the Olympic games to hide
their position that Canada has fundamental human rights problems with
Indigenous Peoples, here in Canada and internationally.
Canada cannot fool us by using money and good public relations to buy their
way around their terrible human rights record. Our grassroots do not
benefit from 2010 Winter Olympic Games. We have members, like other
nations, who are forced to live on the skids in Vancouver because their
rights back home are not recognized, and because they have no home, no job
or no education, they live on the skids in Vancouver, and the Winter Olympic
Games will force them to be arrested and hidden when the international
sports community comes to Vancouver.
Indigenous Peoples who have been dispossessed will be the first in line to
shoulder burden so only a few businesses will make money from the Games. We
believe in the rights and ownership of our traditional territories. Canada
does not. We stand behind our people both weak and strong. We feel that
the spirit and the intent of the Olympic games is not fulfilled when carried
through our Indian Reserves. It should in fact be put out and only be lit
when Canada recognizes that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples is adopted and forms the minimum standard of laws and
policies regarding Indigenous Peoples.
Canada when it accepted the 2010 Winter Olympics put their human rights
record on the table, just like an athlete has to take drug tests to see if
they are on drugs, countries put their human rights record on the table to
ensure that they are not violating the human rights of their peoples,
because the Olympic Games stand for higher standards than national greed and
selfishness. Canada fails this test.
The United Nations Human Development Index places Canada at level one or at
least at the top 5 state governments, yet our position is at level 47 and
below. We live in one of the richest countries in the world, yet we are
collectively the poorest. This is because Canada does not recognize our
Aboriginal and Treaty Rights. Canada economy continues to thrive off the
Colonial Doctrines of Discovery. That is why Canada will not adopt the
Declaration, because the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is
the first major international declaration to repudiate the Colonial
Doctrines of Discovery and recognize Indigenous Rights as Human Rights.
We must be honest. The Olympic Torch is supposed to be a beacon of hope but
only if the state government makes it a beacon of hope. Canada has not done
that. The Olympic Torch under the hands of the Canadian government is
casting a dark shadow on the Human Right of Indigenous Peoples. We ask that
all Indigenous Peoples not take refuge in this light that only brings
prosperity to a few. We must insist that we will not take light from the
Olympic Torch until Canada becomes a strong, capable, mature country that
recognizes and implements the rights of us Indigenous Peoples.
If this kind of fundamental change in Canada's Human Rights record can be
done before the Olympic Torch gets to Vancouver, the Olympic Torch and the
2010 Winter Olympic Games would have done the work that it is supposed to
do. The Olympic Torch would then be a beacon of hope, right now, though
with the stance of the Canadian government, the 2010 Winter Olympic Torch
casts a very dark shadow and does hides Canada's terrible Human Rights
record with Indigenous Peoples. The poor on the skids of Vancouver are
evidence of this tragedy.
Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade (INET)
Neskonlith Reserve of the Secwepemc
RR 3, Site 31, Comp 7
Chase, British Columbia, V0E 1M3, Canada
Mobile: +1 (250) 319-0688