Providing business opportunities for indigenous communities and promoting diversity, along with raising awareness and broadening understanding about indigenous cultural heritage during the Olympic Winter Games, were essential components of Vancouver 2010’s objectives.
The Four Host First Nations Society – a non-profit organisation that grouped together the Lil’wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, whose traditional territory was used during the Games – was set up after Vancouver was awarded the Olympic Winter Games 2010. It was the first organisation of its kind to be included in the decision-making related to the planning and hosting of the Olympic Games, laying the foundations for further partnerships of indigenous peoples both regionally and nationally.
From the initial stages of the infrastructure planning and construction, the Organising Committee worked closely with the Four Host First Nations to ensure that the transformation taking place in and around their territories continually benefits these communities.
Through a series of unprecedented partnerships, the Four Host Nations and Vancouver 2010 implemented over 200 initiatives, including the creation of a permanent Squamish and Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler, an Aboriginal Pavilion in Vancouver, the promotion of aboriginal art through the “2010 Venues Aboriginal Art Programme”, a retail licensing programme and the showcasing of indigenous culture at the Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
A key objective of the indigenous employment strategy of Vancouver 2010 was to increase skill levels among aboriginal workers and to give them a chance to work on Olympic Winter Games-related projects. As a result, approximately 1,200 aboriginal people participated in employment and training initiatives, with 300 of them gaining trade apprenticeships.
The Olympic Winter Games 2010 were a catalyst for change and demonstrated how the indigenous peoples could work with local, regional and national governments. After the Games, Canada signed the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted in 2007. Although the Winter Olympics were not the only reason for this achievement, the Canadian Government highlighted the partnerships and inclusivity brought about by the Games. The Vancouver Olympics represented the first time in history that indigenous peoples from every part of the country had worked with governments and the private sector to host a major international event.