Friday, February 12, 2010

Is Canada Well Represented In The Olympics?

While watching the opening for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and checking Facebook at the same time, I saw this comment that caught my attention. My friend Jason said:

"The Opening Ceremonies' celebration of Aboriginal culture is beautiful, but I can't help but notice the irony - so many of our Native people have been negatively impacted by the Olympics."

which I totally agree with. And here's a response he got from his status:

"Good point Jay; here is an interesting argument;
“The colonization of the native cultural heritage reflects the political attitude of the Canadian government towards First Nations people and our land, and ultimately affects our basic human rights. Talk about the ‘inclusion... See more’ of a native heritage implies identification with the dominant culture, and some benefit to who or what is being included. Yet this ‘inclusion’ denies the existence of systems of signs encoded in visual images, dress, language, ritual, that have specific sociopolitical and religious meanings for specific nations of people. The colonization of images in order to create a new Canadian mythology is parasitic, requiring that the first-order meanings within native communities be drained. This is not an inclusive act, but an act predicated on our exclusion, of ‘otherness’…”
- Marcia Crosby

Personally, I think they are totally right. I mean, the celebration of aboriginal people and native roots was stunning and impressive to say the least. But I can't help to think, what was left out? Was that an authentic aboriginal celebration? by what means they agreed to go on the Olympic show? what do tribes actually think about that? how does the Olympics game affect them negatively? Wasn't white colonisation enough for them? now the whole world is 'colonizing' them. It's kind of a multiple colonisation.

We watch the aboriginal people show through eyes of the dominant white northamerican point of view. It might not be the way they want to be represented, but how the Canadian Government wants to represent them. But who are they to have the say? Just because they organized the Olympic games? But most viewers see it as an act of inclusivity. But really, they are just being excluded by doing so. There is 'us', and there is 'them'. Oh yeah, Canada is also populated by native people, we must include them in our showcase for the world, so that the world doesn't think that we discriminate native people. That is, of course not the case. Take this as an evidence, when they were doing the native dance, did you see any white people mingling with them? No, because the whites and natives are being distinguished or divided. And it is not that they distinguish the various groups of native groups, they are kinda all mushed together (well they did divide them in four categories I can't remember, but still).

What is Canadian identity anyways? Canada is composed of so many cultural mosaics that it will take too long to represent them all. The point is, people are so unique and so is hard to make EVERYONE happy. But at least I'm glad that Canada at least tries.

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