EDITORIAL: Squamish Nation power best Olympic legacy | Squamish Chief

EDITORIAL: Squamish Nation power best Olympic legacy

Ask Squamish residents who lived here during the Olympic and Paralympic Games what they remember and the answers vary, but almost all memories are positive.

Many remember the community spirit, meeting people from around the globe or attending world-class events.

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Others remember volunteering or working for the Games.

Most probably forget that the Vancouver-Whistler bid beat out Bern, Switzerland, P’yŏngyang, North Korea, and Salzburg, Austria to play host. (Remember that nail biter when in the first round of balloting, P’yŏngyang captured 51 votes to Vancouver’s 40?)

Others got their start in their sport thanks to the inspiration or legacies of the Olympics.

Of course, there are also the stress memories of the weather glitches and the tragic death in Whistler of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili during a practice run just hours before the Olympic Games were set to open.

Without the Sea to Sky Highway expansion that was completed in time for the Games, we wouldn’t have the growth today, for better or for worse.

Most importantly, the Olympics offered a worldwide stage for the Squamish Nation to shine on.

The Squamish-language signs were more than just a token nod to the Nation on which the events took place.

They alerted those going by and perhaps some Nation members themselves, of the importance of the language and can in part be credited with encouraging the language’s revitalization with local language programs in Squamish classrooms and with the Squamish Language Proficiency Certificate Program at SFU.

The Nation worked with various levels of government for the Olympics and after, leading to housing developments.

“It kicked open the door for opportunities for us to collaborate and work together,” said Squamish Nation Coun. Kwitelut Kwelaw’ikw (Carla George).

With the door kicked open, the Nation has walked right through, and taken its rightful place as a respected and powerful force in B.C., most recently joining forces with the Musqueum, Tsleil-Waututh First Nations and UBC in a bid to expand SkyTrain to the university.

Of all the legacies, it is this more confident Nation that perhaps we should be most grateful for from the Olympics.

If you are looking for a way to celebrate the anniversary of the Games locally, check out the activities at the 10th Anniversary at Whistler Olympic Park this Family Day weekend.

There are special deals if you can pull out your “Blue Jackets” from back in the day. For more info, go to www.whistlersportlegacies.com/OlympicAnniversary2020.

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