No Olympics on Stolen Land: Get Your Torch Off Our Land
Anti-Olympic Protesters bring their message of resistance across Canada; Olympic Torch shamed
Monday, December 21 2009, Vancouver Unceded Coast Salish Territories- Protesters are bringing their anti-Olympic message with chants of “No Olympics on Stolen Native Land”, “Get your torch off our land, we don’t want your Olympic scam” and “2010 Homes not 2010 Games” across Canada. In many instances, activists have successfully disrupted the Torch Relay, forcing delays and route cancellations, with at least four arrests associated with anti-Torch related actions.
Today, Six Nations community members have declared that the Olympic Torch will not pass through their territory. A Declaration by the Onkwehonwe (people) of the Grand River Territory states “This land is not conquered. We are not Canadian… We hereby affirm our peaceful opposition to the entry and progression of the 2010 Olympic torch into and through our territory.”
In the coming weeks, dissenters are also expected to converge in Kitchener, Calgary, Edmonton, Stratford, and Guelph.
In Toronto over 250 people took to the streets on December 17, blocking major intersections and forcing the cancellation of the Torch in parts of downtown Toronto. A banner dropped directly across the stage read “Gego Olympics Da-Te-Snoon Nishnaabe-Giing Ga-Gmooding” (“No Olympics on Stolen Native Land” in Anishinaabemowin). (Visit http://www.facebook.com/l/9c773;torontotorch.blogspot.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org)
At least four communities in the province of Quebec have opposed the Torch Relay: Sept-Iles, Montreal, Kanahwake First Nations, and Quebec City. In Montreal, over 200 people converged and delayed the relay as well as the main ceremonies and concert. (Visit: http://www.facebook.com/l/9c773;www.amp-montreal.net). On October 30, over 400 people gathered to oppose the Torch Relay launch in Victoria. An Anti-Olympics Festival and Zombie March succeeded in disrupting the relay. Security personnel were forced to extinguish the torch, load it in a van, and reroute it.
Actions have also occurred in cities as diverse as Comox Valley, Kingston, Halifax, Ottawa, and St. John’s. With the number of protesters equaling or exceeding spectators, dissatisfaction to the 2010 Winter Olympics is growing across Canada. According to a November 2009 Angus-Reid poll, over 30% of B.C. residents feel the Olympics will have a negative impact and almost 40% of residents support protesters.
Protesters note that the Olympics are not simply about the athletes; rather the corporate Games are leaving a legacy of displacement, militarization, and repression. Public funds invested by all levels of government are nearing $7 billion. According to the Olympic Resistance Network, “While Olympic corporate sponsors are getting bailed out, Indigenous lands are being stolen, people are becoming homeless, thousands are losing their jobs and access to public services, the environment is being destroyed, and civil liberties are being eroded with almost a billion dollars sunk into surveillance. The negative Olympic legacy is turning into an anti-Olympic legacy of resistance across the country.”
Social justice activists also believe that the Olympic Torch is a $25 million propaganda tool for corporate sponsors who have some of the worst social and environmental practices. The Royal Bank of Canada has been under fire for its financing of the environmentally devastating Alberta Tar Sands, while Coca Cola has been responsible for massive depletion of groundwater and toxic waste pollution in India.