JANUARY 12, 2010

 Native Symbol to Challenge Olympic Authenticity

 Vancouver – Local Aboriginal art producers are launching a symbol they say is meant to address the lack of authenticity in the Native gift market.  The symbol, an Aboriginal figure with hands raised, is meant to indicate to the consumer that the product is designed, produced, and distributed by Aboriginal people in Canada with the benefits returning to Aboriginal communities. 

“We have been under siege by non-Aboriginal actors misleading the public into thinking we are behind their products,” says Shain Jackson, former Aboriginal rights lawyer and owner of Spirit Works Limited, a company making Native jewellery and bentwood boxes, and employing five full-time First Nation workers.  “The straw that broke this camel’s back was that even the Olympics is using this disturbing marketing practice, thereby diverting resources away from the most impoverished communities in Canada right into their own pockets.”

What Jackson refers to is the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic Games’ (VANOC’s) use of the term “Authentic Aboriginal Products” to mean their licensed products with Aboriginal Graphics placed on them, but supplied by non-Aboriginal companies who produce these items overseas.

World famous bentwood box carver James Michels will be one of the artists making use of this symbol.  “It is high time something was done to offer Native art lovers the choice to buy something really authentic, but also to offer them the chance to knowingly contribute to the true artists from where these pieces actually come.”

Grand Chief Stuart Phillip, President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs weighed in on the matter “It is difficult to fathom why BC and Canada are so far behind in enacting legislation aimed at protecting our Indigenous artists, especially considering the U.S. has had it for 20 years in the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990

  For more information contact: Shain Jackson, Spirit Works, 604-982-0024


One Response to “Press Release January 12, 2010”

  1. Bronwen Morgan Says:

    VANOC certainly seems poised to make a fortune from the sale of its not-so-authentic Aboriginal Products, the merchandise is everywhere. After branding the games with so much Aboriginal imagery, its disgraceful, if predictable, that VANOC is interfering with local Aboriginal companies’ chance to actually profit from the games. Good to see local and international media are picking up the story.

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