Olympics Neither Authentic nor Accountable

December 17, 2009

This blog was established to bring attention to the issue of Authenticity in Aboriginal Products.

There are very few direct sources of revenue capable of alleviating the poor conditions existing within Canadian First Nations communities.  The sale of our locally made Aboriginal products is probably the biggest one. 

Unfortunately unscrupulous non-Aboriginal actors have devised ways to re-route this much needed source of income right into their own pockets.  It appears that the Olympics itself has been used as a mass means of facilitating this practice.

Local Aboriginal producers of “Authentic Aboriginal Products” — those designed, produced and distributed by Aboriginal people in Canada –- are dismayed by the lack of commitment to authenticity and accountability of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic Games (VANOC).  We took VANOC at its word when it promised unprecedented support for Aboriginal economic development as well as Aboriginal employment and training leading up to and during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

VANOC has said all the right things through its Aboriginal Procurement Strategy, Aboriginal Licensing and Merchandising Program, and Buy Smart Program.  However, VANOC’s words and the reality don’t match.  Local Aboriginal businesses have found themselves on the short end of an unfair competition with non-Aboriginal companies who appropriate First Nations culture by selling products with Aboriginal designs on them, but originate overseas.  VANOC actually licenses these products and allows them to carry the label of “Authentic Aboriginal Products”. They are not.

By appropriating the term “Authentic Aboriginal Products”, VANOC, along with its associated suppliers, are profiting in the tune of millions of dollars, all the while leaving Aboriginal owned businesses and their Aboriginal employees – the producers of truly Authentic Aboriginal Products – with virtually nothing.  How does this meet VANOC’s objectives of promoting Aboriginal participation and optimizing opportunities for Aboriginal businesses? It does not.


3 Responses to “Olympics Neither Authentic nor Accountable”

  1. […] little background digging found Shain Jackson’s petition blog and his explanation in further detail of what’s going on here. Posted in british columbia. […]

  2. Victor Says:

    Not only are VANOC engaging in the practices you describe in your blog, but even more than that. As one of the cultural performers during the games, I have been trying to have a template agreement established for the use and benefit of all artists and performers. VANOC has dragged its heels on that initiative from the get go. They not only refuse to implement such a template for our benefit, but they even leave us at the mercy of independent production companies that demand that we sign agreements that benefit them and screw us. I even had one of them present me with a contract that allows them to use my voice, image, etc. without further compensation to me or even acknowledgement and allows them to use this material in ways that they choose “accurate or otherwise”. Needless to say, I’ve refused to sign these agreements they’ve placed in front of me, but other performers that I’ve warned have shrugged their shoulders and signed. Mainly because they are thinking of their bread and butter and are worried they may be biting the hand that feeds them.

  3. Hi Nancy,

    There are a few items that specifically state they are made in Canada. I’m pretty confident that everything else is made abroad. We interviewed with APTN and it should on tomorrow night. Thanks so much for your support. Please make sure to sign our petition and spread it around: http://www.gopetition.com/online/32954.html


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