Sunday, October 12, 2008



The great boondoggle that is the 'Olympic Spirit Train' continues to float its way across the country on a raft of taxpayer dollars. Still, it is being met by protests at pretty well every place it stops. The latest was Sudbury, and here's a report on what happened there from the Sudbury A Canadian Lefty in Occupied Land blog. This article was also published at the Olympic Resistance Network site.
Sudbury Action Report: No Olympics on Stolen Land :
Please find below a brief report on today's action responding to Canadian Pacific's so-called "Olympic Spirit Train" and its visit to Sudbury today, followed by the text of the flyer we distributed at the event:

On Saturday, October 11, 2008, the Canadian Pacific Railway's so-called "Olympic Spirit Train" came to Sudbury, Ontario as part of its promotional tour. Leading up to this event, Sudbury Against War and Occupation (SAWO) initiated protest activities in cooperation with other people and groups in the community. Responding to the call from grassroots groups in Vancouver, we organized our activities under the slogan "No Olympics on Stolen Land."

Preceding the event, SAWO hosted a media conference on Thursday, October 9, with First Nations elder Waubauno Kwe. She spoke out against the Olympics being held on unceded indigenous land and against the ways in which the Olympic organizing committee and the "Spirit Train" are appropriating and misusing indigenous spirituality and culture.

On the day of the "Spirit Train" event, twenty people gathered at Market Square in downtown Sudbury for an informational protest. First Nations elder Winnie Pitawanakwat opened the day's activities and others offered poetry, music, and statements, including William Morin of the First Peoples National Party and Clarissa Lassaline of SAWO.

Following the initial gathering, there was a festive, family-friendly procession to the site of the "Spirit Train" event, which was just starting. Some in the procession marched directly into the concert area to engage those who were listening to live music. Others set up at the entrance to the event with signs and information. In all, we passed out over 300 leaflets to people attending the event and spoke with many of them as well. Some were hostile, but almost all took our information. (See below for the text of our leaflet.)

The police and "Spirit Train" organizers were clearly ready for our presence. Based on some of our interactions with event organizers, it seemed to us that the consistent protests at each of their stops are making them very unhappy. We take some heart in that.

Sudbury Against War and Occupation is a group of Sudbury residents concerned with all forms and consequences of war and occupation. While this includes working against Canadian involvement in war and occupation abroad, SAWO sees it as central to recognize that Canada itself exists as an occupation of indigenous land and that struggles by indigenous peoples against that occupation must be supported.

We see our protest activities against the "Spirit Train" and the 2010 Olympics more generally as part of our broader work against war and occupation. We will continue trying to root this work in local struggles, such as the recent Atikameksheng Anishnawbek (Whitefish Lake First Nation) claim on mineral resources wealth in the Sudbury area.

by C.D. on behalf of Sudbury Against War and Occupation
Here's the text of the leaflet that was handed out during the protest.
Flyer text:

Today, a cross-country tour promoting the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver is stopping in Sudbury. In response, we -- a group of Sudbury residents -- are gathering to show our support for the grassroots groups in Vancouver that are organizing against the Olympics. We hope you enjoy the carnival and the music today, but we also hope that you might think about joining the growing number of Canadians who are raising our voices to say: "No Olympics on Stolen Land!"

*You're against the Olympics? What on earth could you have against the Olympics? Are you against fun too?*

No, we're not against fun. Just like any other group of people, some of us like sports and some of us don't. Unfortunately, even though the part of the Olympics that we see on the TV is about sports, most of what happens behind the scenes to make the Olympics happen is about displacement, corporate greed, repression, and violence.

*You're kidding! Who does this stuff happen to?*

Well, in the case of Vancouver 2010, Native people are getting some of the worst of it. You see, British Columbia is unique in Canada in that most of the province is unceded, non-surrendered indigenous territories. Despite the fact that no treaties were signed, in 1876 the Canadian government imposed their control over the nations in that part of Turtle Island, and imposed the band council, reserve and status systems, along with residential schools. Despite this, many indigenous people from what is now called "British Columbia" have continued to organize, lobby, and protest in response to the illegal dispossession of their land. Today, most of BC remains unceded sovereign indigenous lands, over which neither the Canadian nor BC governments have the legal or moral authority to govern.

All of the land development required by the Olympics means more and more native land (which was never surrendered) gets polluted and despoiled for private gain, and the heritage of the indigenous nations whose home it is further eroded. As well, indigenous imagery, traditions, and customs are being appropriated by the big companies that stand to gain from the Olympics.

There are grassroots people from the nations most directly affected by the Olympics who are active in opposing them. The most vocal indigenous opposition to 2010 has included members of the Secwepemc and St'at'imc nations who are active in protecting their traditional lands, the Native Youth Movement, and the late Squamish elder Harriet Nahanee. As well, since 2000 the main indigenous struggles in the BC interior have been against the construction or expansion of mountain ski resorts, exactly the sort of thing that the Olympics will expand.

For instance, there are over $5 billion worth of new resort and resort expansion plans around BC since the Olympic bid was granted. At Sun Peaks Resort alone, there have been over 50 arrests of indigenous people who have been opposing the $295 million expansion of the resort on their traditional territories. Elders and single mothers have been arrested, while Sun Peaks continues its predatory expansion, destroying vital mountain ecosystems, and over-consuming water to produce artificial snow.

*Wow. So that means that the environment is being harmed too, right?*

You bet. Billions of dollars are being spent building ski resorts and Olympic venues on previously undeveloped land. As well, a significant amount of money is going into infrastructure projects like roads and resorts that will initially be for the games but which will be used after the athletes go home by for-profit companies whose activities damage the land - things like ski resorts, mines, logging, natural gas, and oil.

*Who else is being hurt by the Olympics?*

Another big feature of all modern Olympic games is the attack on people living in poverty in the host city. Rents increase, neighbourhoods are changed in ways that make them unaffordable for people living in poverty, and often efforts are made by police and other authorities to get visibly poor and homeless people out of certain areas of the host city, often by harassing, demonizing, and criminalizing them. In past games, such as in Los Angeles and Atlanta, this has included active racial profiling by police. According to a report by the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, the Olympic Games have displaced more than two million people around the world over the last 20 years. This figure does not include the estimated additional 1 million displaced due to the Beijing Games since the publication of the report.

In Vancouver itself, some of the most vocal and active work against the Olympics has come out of the city's Anti-Poverty Committee, the Downtown Eastside Resident's Association (which is based in the poorest part of the city), No One Is Illegal (which is based in immigrant communities in the city), the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre, and the PIVOT legal society. It is projected that the number of homeless in Vancouver will triple from 1000 homeless people since the Olympic bid in 2003 to over 3200 people by 2010. At present, over 1200 low income housing units have been lost in the Downtown Eastside alone since the Olympic bid in 2003. Meanwhile, real estate speculation and gentrification has led to a projected 1500 new market housing units, primarily condominiums, being built in the Downtown Eastside. The Olympic organizing committee in Vancouver has set aside $500,000 for an emergency homelessness shelter "warehouse" that will only be open during the Games

*But don't Olympics mean lots of jobs and prosperity and so on?*

There are certain kinds of jobs that come with big events like the Olympics - things like construction jobs before the games, and low-wage service industry jobs during the games. However, in the case of many past Olympics, whatever economic benefit the event has for the host city is short lived. Often the promoters hype the idea that there will be long term economic benefits, but that is often not the case.

*But the government is spending billions of dollars on getting ready...that money must be going somewhere.*

Mostly into the pockets of people who are already rich. Everything about the Olympics is about making a buck, from the construction companies that build the venues to the big corporations that plaster their logos all over the events. In fact, construction companies and property developers are usually the strongest proponents for hosting the games in a given city, because they stand to make a lot of money. In British Columbia, all of this government money is going to private corporations at the same time as desperately needed services are being cut. Wherever that money is going, it isn't to the people who really need it.

*Okay, this all sounds pretty bad. But I'm sure I remember hearing something on the news from the people that are organizing the games, and they say they've taken care of all of these problems.*

Well, either they are lying or they are being foolishly optimistic. And usually the people making these claims are the people that stand to benefit the most from all of that money, or else they work for the people that will benefit the most. Grassroots organizations of indigenous people, people living in poverty, women, and immigrants to Canada are organizing against the games precisely because these problems have not been solved.

*Wow. This is a lot to think about. What should I do?*

Well, first of all, enjoy your day. Enjoy the music, enjoy the show, enjoy the food. But while you're doing that, think critically about what all of this is here to promote. And talk to your friends about it.

To learn more you can go to the web site of the Olympic Resistance Network at . You can also email to get regular updates and information. To find out more about organizing in Sudbury you can get in touch with Sudbury Against War and Occupation - our email address is, our web site is, and you can also phone us at 705-675-8479.

[Download this text as a bi-fold leaflet with graphics here.]


And don't forget that the Cheesy ChoCho stops tomorrow in Mississauga, Ontario. Once more here's the callout for demonstrations in that town.

Mississauga Mobilizes to Mob on 'Spirit Train' Oct. 13:
The Canadian Pacific Railway's (CP) "Spirit Train" is an Olympic propaganda machine spreading the ideals of capitalist colonialism across Turtle Island. The 2010 Winter Olympics are occurring on unceeded First Nations land in British Columbia where they are causing widespread environmental damages, and are resulting in a massive social housing expropriation in Vancouver.

The train was launched Sunday Sept. 21, 2008, in Port Moody, B.C. where it was successfully disrupted by activists from the Olympic Resistance Network (ORN). Embarrassingly for the sponsors, the Spirit Train is still rolling across the country and the ORN and local counterparts are calling for protests and actions to disrupt the Spirit Train as it stops at locations across 'Canada'.
What: Decentralized Rally & Demonstrations
When: Monday October 13, 1-8pm
Where: Cooksville Go Transit Station, 3210 Hurontario St, Mississauga

The Spirit Train will be leaving Sudbury after Saturday the 11th, and arriving in Mississauga sometime Monday morning. VANOC (the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee) and CP have a full days worth of propaganda and entertainment planned on a stage from 1-8pm.
Protests and demonstrations need to occur throughout the day in order to disrupt the event. If VANOC plans to spread its "Olympic Spirit" in our community, we will be there to show people what the Olympics really stands for; capitalism and colonialism, and we will be there to show our Spirit of Resistance. As we get even closer to the date, an announcement will be made about a rally point (and time), likely at Union Station in Toronto.
Email any questions or concerns to
For more information about Olympic Resistance check out:
For more information about the spirit train check out:


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