Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The following is a press release from the Olympic Resistance Network dated yesterday, December 21. It is a summary of some of the protests that have met the Olympic flame in its course across the country.
Press Release: Olympic Torch being Disrupted across Canada, Protests today at Six Nations as Olympic Torch shamed:
==> Anti-Olympic Protesters bring their message of resistance across Canada; Olympic Torch shamed.
==> Six Nations community members declare Olympic Torch will not pass through their territory.
Monday, December 21 2009, Vancouver Unceded Coast Salish Territories-Protesters are bringing their anti-Olympic message with chants of “No Olympics on Stolen Native Land”, “Get your torch off our land, we don’t want your Olympic scam” and “2010 Homes not 2010 Games” across Canada. In many instances, activists have successfully disrupted the Torch Relay, forcing delays and route cancellations, with at least four arrests associated with anti-Torch related actions.
Today, Six Nations community members have declared that the Olympic Torch will not pass through their territory. A Declaration by the Onkwehonwe (people) of the Grand River Territory states “This land is not conquered. We are not Canadian… We hereby affirm our peaceful opposition to the entry and progression of the 2010 Olympic torch into and through our territory.” (Visit: http://6nsolidarity.wordpress.com/ or No2010@peaceculture.org for media interviews). In the coming weeks, dissenters are also expected to converge in Kitchener, Calgary, Edmonton, Stratford, and Guelph.
In Toronto over 250 people took to the streets on December 17, blocking major intersections and forcing the cancellation of the Torch in parts of downtown Toronto. A banner dropped directly across the stage read “Gego Olympics Da-Te-Snoon Nishnaabe-Giing Ga-Gmooding” (“No Olympics on Stolen Native Land” in Anishinaabemowin). (Visit http://torontotorch.blogspot.com/or email torchblock@gmail.com ).
At least four communities in the province of Quebec have opposed the Torch Relay: Sept-Iles, Montreal, Kanahwake First Nations, and Quebec City. In Montreal, over 200 people converged and delayed the relay as well as the main ceremonies and concert. (Visit: http://www.amp-montreal.net/).
On October 30, over 400 people gathered to oppose the Torch Relay launch in Victoria. An Anti-Olympics Festival and Zombie March succeeded in disrupting the relay. Security personnel were forced to extinguish the torch, load it in a van, and reroute it. (Visit http://no2010victoria.net/or no2010victoria@gmail.com ).
Actions have also occurred in cities as diverse as Comox Valley, Kingston, Halifax, Ottawa, and St. John's. With the number of protesters equaling or exceeding spectators, dissatisfaction with the 2010 Winter Olympics is growing across Canada. According to a November 2009 Angus-Reid poll, over 30% of B.C. residents feel the Olympics will have a negative impact and almost 40% of residents support protesters. (sorry, but ????-Molly )
Protesters note that the Olympics are not simply about the athletes; rather the corporate Games are leaving a legacy of displacement, militarization, and repression. Public funds invested by all levels of government are nearing $7 billion. According to the Olympic Resistance Network, “While Olympic corporate sponsors are getting bailed out, Indigenous lands are being stolen, people are becoming homeless, thousands are losing their jobs and access to public services, the environment is being destroyed, and civil liberties are being eroded with almost a billion dollars sunk into surveillance. The negative Olympic legacy is turning into an anti-Olympic legacy of resistance across the country.” Social justice activists also believe that the Olympic Torch is a $25 million propaganda tool for corporate sponsors who have some of the worst social and environmental practices. The Royal Bank of Canada has been under fire for its financing of the environmentally devastating Alberta Tar Sands, while Coca Cola has been responsible for massive depletion of groundwater and toxic waste pollution in India.
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Here, according to the Hamilton Spectator, is what happened on the Six Nations Reserve yesterday.
Six Nations protesters detour the Olympic flame:
Barry Gray, the Hamilton Spectator

Change of venue a 'small victory'
December 22, 2009 Danielle Wong
The Hamilton Spectator(Dec 22, 2009)
A last-minute detour in the Olympic flame's passage through Six Nations yesterday appeased protesters, but left participants with mixed feelings.

The initial plan to have the 25 torchbearers run through the heart of the reserve had upset some Six Nations people.

They argued the torch represented Ottawa's mistreatment of natives and the environmental destruction caused by Olympic preparations near Vancouver.

Torchbearers and spectators learned yesterday morning the relay would instead be held at the Six Nations bingo hall at Highway 54 and Chiefswood Road, on the reserve's outskirts.

Protesters had positioned themselves to block the torch from coming on to Six Nations land on Highway 54, but backed off when they saw the Olympic caravan take a different route to the hall.

"All the demands were met in not bringing the caravan through (Six Nations) and that's why there was no big demonstration," said protester Skye Williams, 26.

Torchbearer Robert Henry said he would have liked to have carried the torch through Ohsweken, but the event was still positive.

"It's unfortunate we can't go that way, but I think this will still ... be part of history," said the 36-year-old.

The relay began shortly after 5 p.m. outside the bingo hall. More than 200 people gathered outside to watch smoke dances and the First Nations youth choir before cheering on the torchbearers.

Torchbearer Jason Johnson said last night's event was an opportunity to encourage young people and he was shocked when he got the call that he would be running.

"Big events like these don't often make their way this far," he said.

There was a different atmosphere earlier when a small group of protesters showed up at the Six Nations Community Centre on Fourth Line after a press conference.

They held signs saying "No Olympics on stolen native land" and "No torch means no trespassing."

There was no consensus among the Haudenosaunee Confederacy to bring the Olympic torch to their land, said the demonstration's spokesperson Melissa Elliott, 19.

The change in venue was a "small victory" for those protesting the Olympics, she said.

But Lana Isaacs, who came out to support the torchbearers, said she would have liked to see the torch go through the reserve.

"We have elders at the Iroquoia lodge who could see (the relay) out the window," she said, adding there were others who could not get to the bingo hall.

"They're missing it and it is sad. And it is too bad."

Band council chief Bill Montour said they switched routes because the bingo hall was more "central" and the initial plan was "becoming a logistic nightmare."

"This event is not a political event.

"It's for this community."

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