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Torch relay report from Trout Lake

by Paul Kitz


Also posted by Wrighter:

At 2:13 today the Olympic torch was carried down Victoria Drive, past Trout Lake Community Centre and the new ice rink next door, constructed as an Olympic training facility.

“It's amazing how many people came out to watch,” observed Ms. Staff, a resident of the community. Although Ms. Staff recognizes that “there's going to be an impact [from the Olympics], the fact is they're coming so we might as well enjoy them - have a good time.” There were those, however, who were not satisfied with waving miniature Canadian flags and dancing to the beats emanating from the Coca-Cola truck, which led the procession.

“I came to see how I'd feel about this and I feel absolutely nauseous at the amount of money that is wasted, and all these kids are all losing money for their education.” remarked Jenn Barker, another community resident. “I'm glad to see they're excited about this event, but you know they're going to pay for it and it breaks my heart.” Ms. Barker was not the only one concerned about how this will affect the children of her community.

Ilana Labow shared her experience that, “with the 20 community centres that have been shut down for the cultural olympiad a whole bunch of [her] friends who use those community centres for daycare couldn't take their kids there anymore but don't have money to pay for private day care.” Unfortunately for these families, the Trout Lake Community Centre will be closed for redevelopment after the Olympics and isn't scheduled to open again until May. The redevelopment of the Community Centre itself, the oldest in the city, is a project that would have already been completed if not for VANOC's interest in constructing a new ice rink and Olympic training facility next door.

Meanwhile, lining the sidewalks, the children who have lost their community centre and daycare are being handed “little flags that say one line about the Olympics and the rest of it is pushing Coca Cola products,” which, according to Ms. Labow, “destroy land and resources for thousands of people really far away and make people in this land super unhealthy and relient on paying money for access to water that ought to be free for all.”
Another local resident witnessing the torch relay, Metta Paterson, is critical of what parents and schools have brought their children to Trout Lake to participate in. “I was really overwhelmed by how community could come together, and that was really beautiful. What sickens me is people don't even know why they're coming together and the cause and effect of that – what's actually happening. We have the opportunities and capabilities to have a party in the street. There's massive vans [here] with awesome music and revving people up...but what about the companies that are actually doing it? It's RBC and Coca Cola and no one even knows the destruction those companies are causing and we're all ecstatic about it.” A visibly upset Ms. Paterson expresses that “we could do this for the good of that everyone could benefit from it.”

Caleb Vallevand echoed Ms. Patterson's convictions. He is concerned that there is a lack of “critical analysis of what's happening with the folks that are promoting the Olympics...especially the impacts RBC is having in parts of Canada with their investment in the Tar Sands.”

Noting the problematic nature of such immense corporate involvement in the Olympics, an observer, who wishes to remain anonymous, responded to a question about what a corporate-free Olympics might look like. “I'd be fascinated to see what would happen to the Olympics if they had to work on a smaller budget and rely more on the infrastructure of communities within the city to embrace and host, opposed to outside money pushing products that really impact the health and vitality of [humans].”

The anonymous interviewee identified herself as the daughter of a former Olympic fencer and is “intimately connected to friends who are training for the Olympics in the next four years who come from super low-income, poverty stricken communities. [This] is this big, amazing life goal they've had and they're working towards it, so I have empathy and sympathy for the Olympian people, but I'm shocked and astounded by the impacts the Olympics is having on this city that hosts it.”


photo by "insurgentphoto"

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I feel like I was there.

I feel like I was there. Thanks Paul.

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