Vancouver Groups Statements Opposing Games

Posted by admin on Dec 17th, 2009

Compiled statements of No One Is Illegal, Native 2010 Resistance, Olympic Resistance Network, Council of Canadians,

Statement by No One Is Illegal, 2009

While the 2010 Olympics are still a short time away, many are well aware of the devastating impact they are having on our communities. From traditional Indigenous territories to the impoverished Downtown Eastside (DTES), and from migrant workers to low-income families, thousands are being evicted, displaced, and exploited.  It is undeniable that the Olympics is causing the devastation of the environment, creating homelessness, perpetuating the theft of Indigenous lands, exploiting migrant labour, forcing greater privatization, accruing massive public debt, and resulting in increased state criminalization.

As stated by historian George Monbiot, the Games are less about sports than “a legacy of a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich… Everywhere they go, the games become an excuse for eviction and displacement; they have become a license for land grabs.”

For anyone who maintains any illusions of Olympic prosperity, recent Olympic budgets make clear that there is no projected profit. Instead, while thousands are losing their jobs and access to public services such as education and arts are being cut; Olympic corporate sponsors are getting bailed out. These sponsors – such as oil and gas company Petro Canada, military aircraft producer General Electric, chemical manufacturer Dow Chemical, and Alberta Tar Sands financier Royal Bank of Canada – have some of worst environmental and social practices on record.

According to a report by the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, the Games have displaced more than two million people around the world over the last 20 years (not including the one million displaced due to the Beijing Games). Meanwhile over 16,500 RCMP, military and security personnel will be in Vancouver during February 2010. This $1 billion security operation is the largest one in Canadian history and has been dubbed “the Surveillance Games” by sociologist David Lyon.

No One Is Illegal has been increasingly active in the anti-Olympic movement, offering our support to DTES residents and anti-poverty efforts, as well as to Indigenous land and urban defenders and their allies in the “No Olympics on Stolen Native Land” movement. While many people are being impacted by the Olympic Industry, one of the most significant effects is on Indigenous people. Indigenous people are impacted by the long-term plunder of their lands, disproportionately experiencing poverty in urban areas, and are the primary targets of repressive policing and surveillance resulting in countless arrests. This glaring reality is what the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee (VANOC) is trying to hide by desperately selling the idea of Native consent to the Games through the creation of the corporate and state-sponsored Four Host First Nations body.

In light of the extreme levels of state repression including surveillance, intimidation, and attempts to create divisions in the movement, we invite activists to get informed, get involved, and express their public solidarity with this growing resistance. Over the upcoming months, No One Is Illegal will be focusing our energies to building an effective, inclusive, and disruptive anti-Olympics movement with our allies.  Based on the call by the Indigenous Peoples Gathering in Sonora, Mexico to boycott the Games, the Olympics Resistance Network has called for a global anti-colonial and anti-capitalist convergence between February 10th-15th 2010 in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories. While working towards this convergence, we have been encouraged to think of human interconnectedness rather than social and political isolation in building long-term alliances beyond 2010 to strengthen our shared struggles for justice, dignity, and liberation.

No One Is Illegal-Vancouver is a grassroots anti-colonial and anti-racist migrant justice group.  We strive and struggle for a world in which no one is forced to migrate against their will, and where people can move freely in order to flourish. We place ourselves within the broader movement against capitalism, militarism, oppression, poverty, imperialism, and other systems of domination and exploitation. As a movement for self-determination that challenges the ideology of border controls, we actively offer our support to Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island.
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Native 2010 Resistance Statement, Feb 11 2008

The Native 2010 resistance was established in December of 2007. We represent the Skwxwú7mesh-ulh (Squamish), Lil’wat, Stölo, St’at’imc, Nlaka’Pamux, Secwepemc, Kwakwaka’wakw, Haida, Carrier, Wet’suwet’en, Nisga’a, Tsimshian, Gitxsan, Gitnyow, Tuchone, Cree, Annishnabe, Cayuga, Onondaga, and Oneida nations. We stand in full confrontation with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC), 2010 Legacies Now, the Vancouver Board of Trade and the Canadian Government and corporations supporting the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

We are here to expose to the world that we have never welcomed the Olympics and we continue to resist corporate Olympic invasion, development and industrialization of Mother Earth. Already Olympic construction and expansion of roads, highways and ski-resorts (including fake snow made with sewage) has disrupted and destroyed trap lines, hunting grounds, salmon stocks, mountain animal habitats and sacred sites.

Our blood and the blood of the land has been spilled for the Games and the government to profit. Despite VANOC’s claim to be the most ‘green games’, so far they are demonstrating to be the most ‘blood red games’. Supposedly so called BC is the ‘best place to live on earth’, yet for Indigenous people, ‘British Columbia’ has only served to wreak havoc on their lives and land. Olympic myth making and corporate brainwashing attempts to hide the facts that while Canada remain one of the richest countries, it remains home to approximately 300,000 homeless people, while another 1.7 million residents struggle with housing affordability issues. Indigenous people account for 30% of this homeless population, despite making up under 5% of the total population.

While the Olympic organizers operate with a budget of almost $2 billion (costs for the Vancouver’s Trade and Convention Centre alone has reached almost $900 million) and other costs to government surpassing an estimated $6 billion, Vancouver is now home to North America’s fastest growing homelessness crisis. Dozens of low-income hotels and apartment buildings are being converted to condominiums to house the rich.

We are also concerned about the prominence of an abusive and violent police state. The death of Frank Paul, Gerald Chenery, Connie Jabobs, and hundreds of other Indigenous people, points to the racist and heightened state of police brutality that is being accelerated by the Olympics. There is a growing concern about the new militarization of police that is focused on terrorism, new weapons and training and the targeting of Indigenous people. At Sun Peaks (Skwelkwek’welt) ski resort near Kamloops, over 70 arrests have been made of mostly Secwepemc youth & elders. We hold the Canadian government, the British Columbian (BC) and Canadian Judicial systems working in conjunction with VANOC responsible for the death of Indigenous Elder and Warrior Harriet Nahanee , and acknowledge her death and the persecution of Indigenous dissent as a direct result of the Canadian Government’s objective to drive out opposition in order to make room for the Olympics 2010. There can be no justification for the targeting, imprisonment and death of an esteemed Indigenous Elder.

We acknowledge that the Olympics will encourage sex tourism and hence living in extreme poverty, many Indigenous woman and children will be forced into the sex trade. Aboriginal women and children need safety from poverty and violence, and we disagree that a sex brothel should be afforded amnesty from the city and/or government to accommodate business investors and tourists.

We reject VANOC’s mockery and ridicule of Indigenous cultures through the Olympic mascots and the Olympic logo. Our sacred stories and symbols are misappropriated and demonstrates theft of Indigenous stories, and aspects of our culture.

The Four Host First Nations do not speak for us, or represent us, they are merely window dressing for the atrocities our Indigenous people face everyday. They do not represent the poor, the homeless, or the common Indigenous people, they represent the rich and continue to collaborate with governments and corporations for profit that will benefit very few Indigenous people.

We stand strong in our fight against the 2010 Olympics and will continue to resist Olympic poverty and homelessness, the theft and exploitation of Indigenous land, cultural appropriation and police violence.

Statement by the Olympic Resistance Network, 2008

The 2010 Winter Olympics will take place on unceded indigenous land from February 12-28 2010. Far from being simply about ‘sport’, the history of the Olympics is one rooted in displacement, corporate greed, fascism, repression, and violence. Those with the most to gain from the Olympics are the political and corporate elite – from real estate developers to private security corporations.

The effects of the upcoming 2010 Winter Games include:

– Theft of unceded Indigenous lands, particularly for sport tourism and resource extraction. There are over $5 billion worth of resort plans since the Olympic bid, despite significant grassroots Indigenous opposition; for example around Kamloops and Mount Currie. At the Sun Peaks Resort alone, there have been over 50 arrests of Indigenous people who have been opposing the $295 million expansion of the resort. Indigenous land has also been appropriated for the creation of transportation infrastructure such as bridges, port facilities, and highways. Since the Olympic bid the BC government has expedited the application process within the construction, mining, logging, forestry, oil/gas and resort sectors, thus opening up unceded Indigenous territories for sale to corporations, akin to the “gold rush.”

– Increasing homelessness and gentrification of poor neighbourhoods, especially Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES). It is projected that the number of homeless in Vancouver will triple from 1000 homeless people since the Olympic bid in 2003 to over 3200 people by 2010. Over 1200 low income housing units have been lost in the DTES since the Olympic bid in 2003. Meanwhile, real estate speculation and gentrification has led to a projected 1500 new market housing units, primarily condominiums, being built in the DTES. According to a report by the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, the Olympic Games have displaced more than two million people around the world over the last 20 years, not including the estimated additional 1 million displaced in Beijing.

– Unprecedented destruction of the environment. This includes: massive deforestation in the Callaghan Valley to build the Whistler Olympic Center; clear cuts of Cypress Mountain, which is a designated 2010 venue location; massive sand and gravel mining operations to build construction materials; and the destruction of Eagleridge Bluffs due to the Sea-to-Sky Highway construction. In 2007, 71-year old Pacheedaht elder Harriet Nahanee and 78-year old environmentalist Betty Krawcyzk were two of the arrestees at a blockade opposing construction at Eagleridge Bluffs. Harriet Nahanee contracted pneumonia at the Surrey Pre-Trial Center. She died a few days later, while hospitalized, on Feb. 24, 2007.

– More privatization of public services and ballooning public debt. The total cost for 2010 and related construction will be close to $6 billion, with Olympic venues alone costing over $4.5 billion. For example, taxpayers are on the hook for $875 million for the 2010 Olympic Athletes Village’s construction costs alone, while costs for the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre have skyrocketed to almost $900 million.

– Union busting through imposed contracts and vulnerable working conditions for migrant labour. There are an estimated 3,000-5,000 temporary migrant and undocumented workers in the Olympics-fuelled and speculation-driven construction industry that are prone to hyper-exploitation and are vulnerable given their lack of full legal status.

– Increased funding (up to $1 billion) for the police, military, and border agents in the name of “national security.” Sociologist David Lyon has dubbed Vancouver 2010 “the Surveillance Games,” since security operations will include over 13,000 RCMP, military & other security personnel as well as joint US-Canada military & North American Aerospace Defence Command operations.

– Criminalization of the poor. Former Mayor Sam Sullivan has written: “I believe we have a tremendous opportunity to use the upcoming 2010 Games as a catalyst to [solve public disorder problems].” Plans to “cleanse” the city’s core of the poor include increased funding for private security initiatives such as the Downtown Ambassadors; passing of the Safe Streets Act which prohibits sitting or lying down on city sidewalks; banning dumpsters from the downtown core; and more. In addition, VANOC has set aside $500,000 for an emergency homelessness shelter “warehouse” that will only be open for the duration of the Games.

– Corporate profiteering: Beginning in 1985, the IOC designated top-level corporate sponsors as The Olympic Partners (TOP). These corporations gain exclusive world-wide marketing rights for a specified term. Along with paying sponsorship fees, these corporations supply products and services to Games as part of their contracts with the IOC. While making billions, these corporate sponsors of the Olympic Games also have some of the worst environmental and social practices on record. For example: Petro-Canada is one of the most environmentally destructive oil and gas companies; Royal Bank of Canada is the top financier of the environmentally devastating Alberta Tar Sands; Hudson Bay Company has been responsible for the colonization of Indigenous land; General Electric is one of the world’s top three producers of military aircraft engines and a major producer of nuclear power plants; Dow Chemical is the world’s second largest chemical manufacturer and cause of the Bhopal gas disaster in India; Coca Cola has been responsible for toxic waste pollution and massive depletion of ground water, and has also been involved in hiring paramilitary groups to violently repress union organizers in Colombia; and McDonalds is one of the largest junk food restaurants and known for its exploitation of workers and contribution to poor health standards.

– Repression of dissent: Anti-Olympic activists are already being subjected to heavy surveillance and repression and countless people, particularly Indigenous defenders, have been intimidated and harassed by CSIS and VISU (Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit).  A May 2008 CSIS Threat Assessment document notes that “opposition to the 2010 Olympic Games is most noticeable amongst the more extreme elements of First Nations communities in conjunction with groups like No One is Illegal, the Anti-Poverty Committee, and the Downtown Eastside Residents Association.” Protest pens, fenced-in areas for demonstrators that are isolated from the public, and control of political displays are already planned for the Games under the guise of “free speech zones.”

The Olympic Resistance Network is primarily based in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories and exists as a space to coordinate anti-2010 Olympics efforts. In doing so, we act in solidarity with other communities across ‘BC’ – particularly Indigenous communities who have been defending their land against the onslaught of the Olympics since the bid itself. Our organizing is largely being done under the slogan of “No Olympics on Stolen Native Land”, while creating an opportunity for all anti capitalist, Indigenous, anti poverty, labour, migrant justice, environmental justice, anti war, and anti colonial activists to come together to confront this two-week circus and the oppression it represents.

In addition to building ongoing educational and resistance efforts, we are organizing towards an anti-2010 convergence based on the call for an international boycott by delegates at the Indigenous Peoples Gathering in Sonora, Mexico in October 2007 . We hope to see you all in 2010 and together we will demonstrate our indignation and resistance!

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Council of Canadians Condemns 2010 Games, 2008

The Council of Canadians, one of Canada’s largest public advocacy organizations, with members and chapters across the country, views positively the Olympic goal of friendly international competition between athletes who excel in their respective sports. We understand and appreciate the pleasure and enjoyment so many around the world share in the spectacle and achievements of the Olympic Games.

However, we are gravely concerned by the increasing evidence that these worthy aspects are being overwhelmed, if not totally supplanted, by an “Olympic industry” focused on real estate development and massive corporate marketing opportunities. An “Olympic industry” founded and based in undemocratic and unaccountable national and international structures, implicated in numerous corruption scandals that undermine everything a truly noble Olympic movement should stand for.

In particular, the Council of Canadians believes the February 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver and Whistler will leave a negative legacy contrary to the goals set forward during the application and approval process to host the games. There is now no doubt that the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) and its affiliated partners will fail to meet their commitments with regard to the environment, social programs and fiscal accountability.

The Council of Canadians is committed to working with activists who are highlighting the negative aspects of the 2010 Games, especially the fact they are being held on un-ceded First Nations territories and are providing mining, resort, real estate and energy developers with opportunities to continue expansion of projects on indigenous territories throughout the province.

As well, we are concerned that the civil liberties of local communities and those who have a critique of the Games are being undermined by an unnecessary security presence. The security budget for the games has ballooned to $1 billion, while security and law enforcement agencies have identified protest groups as the most significant threat to the Games. Over 4,500 Canadian military troops will be deployed to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics – twice the number Canada has in Afghanistan.

Federal Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association have both raised serious concerns about the threat to fundamental rights to privacy and protest arising from the installation and introduction of new surveillance and security measures. Almost a year before the start of the Games surveillance cameras are being installed in Whistler and Vancouver and, according to several credible reports, harassment of protesters has begun.

Residents of Whistler, site of the nordic and downhill venues, are already living in what amounts to a “security zone,” which is only expected to escalate as the opening date approaches. Critics of the Games, including a Council of Canadians board member, have allegedly been placed under surveillance, while hikers and mountain bikers find favourite wilderness trails blocked by mysterious military operations.

As with Beijing 2008, there are plans to suppress legitimate dissent, including restricting demonstrators to areas far away from venues, visitors and the media. The Council of Canadians is concerned for the civil liberties of those who challenge the negative impacts of the Olympics and asks: Will those who ignore such undemocratic limitations be pepper-sprayed, tear-gassed and arrested? Will they be labeled “terrorists” and face global travel bans for exercising their democratic rights?”

As an organization focused on global justice we are especially concerned that the 2010 Olympics are providing a prime “green-washing” opportunity for corporations involved in the most egregious threats to the survival of humanity and the earth through their active participation in the privatization and commodification of water and massive environmental degradation exemplified by the exploitation of the tar sands.

A Worldwide Olympic Partner, Coca Cola (also a sponsor of the Torch Relay), is notorious for depleting groundwater in areas of India and Latin America with scarce water resources. Furthermore, Coca Cola is a leading promoter of water commodification as one of the largest producers of bottled water in the world. The Council of Canadians is actively promoting bottled water bans in communities across the country, and has grave concerns about the impact of Coca Cola’s sponsorship on public water infrastructure support in Vancouver and Whistler.

EPCOR, an Official Supplier for the games, has been working to privatize the water utilities of municipalities across the country, including BC. Epcor tried to bid on the privatization of waste water treatment in Whistler in 2006. The bid was successfully overturned as a result of efforts by the Council of Canadians and community members in Whistler. General Electric, another Worldwide Olympic Partner, is a major financier of private power projects in BC, including the enormous Bute Inlet proposal through its subsidiary Plutonic Power. The Council of Canadians has taken a stand against private power projects in British Columbia through the ‘IPP’ model.

The Royal Bank of Canada and Petro Canada, both National Partners for the 2010 Games, are directly involved in the Alberta tar sands, one of the most environmentally destructive projects in the world. The Royal Bank is a major financier of tar sands projects and is also a sponsor of the Torch Relay. Ironically, their ad campaigns for the relay ask
individuals to make a “green pledge” by volunteering to carry the torch. The Council of Canadians is campaigning for no new approvals in the tar sands and a halt to any development infrastructure designed to increase the capacity of tar sands exploitation.

Dow Chemical is also an Olympic sponsor. Currently Dow is suing the Government of Canada for $2 million, through NAFTA’s Chapter 11 investor-state dispute process, as part of a challenge to a Quebec ban on the use of lawn pesticides. Dow claims that the ban has amounted to an unfair expropriation of Dow’s Canadian pesticide business. The Council of Canadians has long campaigned against NAFTA and Chapter 11’s harmful impact on public regulation.

At a time of economic crisis when federal, provincial and municipal governments should focus on public projects that create a lasting positive social and economic foundation the 2010 Games appear set to leave a legacy of social and environmental destruction and massive debt that will hobble our ability to make positive change and respond to the
serious challenges facing communities across the province and the country.

StopWar Statement on 2010 Olympics, 2009

The Olympic Charter states that the Olympic movement aims, “to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity”. The coalition in Vancouver, Canada considers that this noble ideal is contradicted the by reality of the Games which reveals a consistent, predictable and historical pattern of militarization and anti-democratic acts everywhere that they are hosted. The 2010 Winter Games that will take place in Vancouver next February are no exception to this reality.

StopWar is especially concerned with the militarization of Vancouver and Whistler during the Games, with its accompanying restrictions on the democracy and safety of our community. Enormous resources, including one billion dollars of spending, considerable military personnel and equipment, and countless thousands of police and private security personnel are being deployed. Featured among the identified “threats” to the Games are domestic protest. The Games are accompanied by the largest domestic military and security operation in Canadian military history. It includes: 40 km of electronically monitored security fencing; over 1000 closed circuit cameras; the use of military aerial surveillance; the creation of new policing forces such as VISU (Vancouver Integrated Security Unit), JTFG (Joint Task Force Games), and participation of US security and policing agencies; and finally, the use of 4500 Canadian Forces troops, many of whom will be pulled from the war in Afghanistan to be relocated in 10 military camps between Vancouver and Whistler.

The increased surveillance and militarization of the Olympic host communities, as well as those that the Olympic Torch will be passing through, has resulted in an assault on civil liberties that is increasing as the Games draw closer. What’s more, British Columbia is facing environmental destruction and the erosion of social services as a result of the Games.

The pattern of anti-democratic and repressive security procedures and apparatuses that follow the Olympic Games wherever they are hosted can be traced to IOC rules. Rule 51 of the IOC Charter (2007) stipulates that “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites,venues or other areas.” Rules and procedures such as this call into question the legitimacy of any community hosting the Olympic Games if they are guaranteed to remove the basic principles and protections of a democratic society. The Canadian agencies responsible for security have identified domestic protest groups as the most significant security threat, thereby legitimizing the use of force to suppress opposition and the effective removal of the fundamental freedoms of speech, thought, and assembly protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Like the stated goal of the Olympic Games, the Olympic Truce movement is similarly hypocritical and reveals nothing more than a rhetorical commitment to peace that is contradicted by real actions. Despite Canada being in its 9th year of waging war on the people of Afghanistan, the Canadian Olympic Truce is calling on the world community “to cease hostilities during the Games and promote the ideals of peace through sport”, however, Canada has no plans to cease causing death and destruction in Afghan society. In an ironic twist of history, we remember that the 1980 Olympic Games hosted by the Soviet Union were boycotted by over 60 countries, including Canada, in protest of the Soviet occupation and war in Afghanistan that had begun a year earlier in 1979.

The continued Canadian aggression in Afghanistan reflects a paternalistic and Imperialist commitment in which the sovereignty of Afghanistan and the ability of Afghan people to determine their own future is disregarded. In the same way, the Olympic Games reveal the true agenda of the Canadian and BC governments to disregard and further attack the struggle for self-determination and sovereignty of local Indigenous nations. Land and resource development for the Games has displayed a total disrespect for legally recognized Indigenous land, title and resources and the destruction of sacred sites. Government supported chiefs have been bought out and traditional indigenous symbols and artistic expression have been co-opted.

Stopwar opposes the use of war as a means of settling international disputes. We demand that Canada withdraw our troops from Afghanistan immediately and that Canada respect and recognize Indigenous rights, title, and sovereignty on the stolen and colonized land of Turtle Island (North America).

We believe that the Vancouver 2010 Olympic games will leave a lasting legacy that is disastrous for our community and nation. We call on all peace loving people to expose and bring to the world stage our experience of the militarization that come from hosting the Olympic Games. By being vigilant and vocal about what it really means to promote a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity we can try to ensure that no nation and no community is forced to endure these conditions again.

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