Squamish Nation welcomes Olympic flame to Four Host First Nations territory
The Squamish Nation welcomed the Olympic flame to Totem Hall in Squamish yesterday in a charged ceremony that saw the torch reach Four Host First Nations territory for the first time.
Chief Gibby Jacob told a crowd of more than 300 people the entrance of the flame to Squamish territory represented the fruition of nearly ten years of planning.
In an interview with The Outlook, Jacob said the Games will be an opportunity for aboriginal people to showcase their cultures.
"We've received tremendous feedback to see chiefs and protocol recognized on the same stage as national leadership," said Jacob. "The (Olympic) flame has provided a flame of hope that people will see what their communities are all about."
Chief Ian Campbell said he hopes the unprecedented participation of Canada's aboriginal people in the Games will empower aboriginal youth and raise awareness of pressing issues for aboriginal communities and all Canadians.
"We've come through a dark chapter in Canadian history. We've made huge strides as a collective."
Squamish elder and fire keeper Laverne Baker blessed the Olympic flame following traditional protocol.
"It's a happy occasion for the community as well as the world that's coming to visit our territory," she said in an interview. "It's an honour to be representing the Squamish First Nation."
After the blessing at Totem Hall, the flame proceeded to the Brennan Park Recreation Centre for a community celebration. Today (Feb. 5) it arrives in Whistler. The torch will enter BC Place Feb. 12 for the official opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Games.
In the torch relay, 50 delegates in aboriginal communities across Canada will welcome the Olympic flame as fire keepers, Jacob said.
North Vancouver's Audrey Rivers, of the Squamish Nation, will bless the flame when it stops at the Chief Joe Mathias Centre Feb. 10.
Composed of the Lil'wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Wauthuth peoples, the Four Host First Nations is a partner hosting in the 2010 Winter Games.