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.

It is not too late to call on VANOC to honour its commitment to people from First Nations communities and their businesses.  Tell VANOC to be authentic and accountable, by signing the petition below:

We the undersigned call on the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic Games (VANOC) to stop using the term “Authentic Aboriginal Products” to mean their licensed products, with Aboriginal graphics placed on them, that are produced by non-Aboriginal companies, and originate from outside of Canada.  Furthermore, we the undersigned call on VANOC to honour its commitments to local Aboriginal businesses and immediately end the exclusion from its licensing scheme, Aboriginal products that are truly Authentic, made by people from First Nations communities in Canada.

Sign Petition:  http://www.gopetition.com/online/32954.html


One Response to “PETITION Olympics to Respect Aboriginal Authenticity”

  1. As a Haida Artist and designer of clothing, I wholeheartedly agree with Spirit Works Shain Jackson. There is so much that can be said for the misuse of the word “authentic”. And by combining this word with aboriginal misleads the public coming in from all parts of the world to believe that we are behind the products that VANOC has produced in China.
    I believe if we can own the words Authentic and authenticity, it should belong to those that really do produce art by hand. For those that carve totem poles, carve jewelry, bend wood boxes, and woven baskets. This is truly a skilled artistan word, Authentic, made from nothing, from scratch, made from creative minds and hands. This passing around the word Authentic, like it can be put on 1 million objects and sold that way is wrong. What we do is art, from thousands of years old tradition and as artists we are carriers of that tradition, we treat this with guarded respect. My wish is that they do not use this to mislead the public, and hopefully there are some who see a spade for a spade. You can go buy a tee shirt with some native design on it, but yes it may be designed originally by a First Nations artist, who has been bought off for the use of the design, but it is not a handmade object. Its just a memento of a certain event.
    Please let us keep the words Authentic Native Products for those that earn the right to it, that come from 10,000 years old tradition, to those that have paid their dues in long labourious hours to create beautiful hand made objects, to those that have mastered the fine art of their ancestors.

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