The agreement, known as the Four Host First Nations Protocol, will ensure that the traditions of the Lilwat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh people are acknowledged and respected in the planing, staging, and hosting of the 2010 Games, said Tewanee Joseph interim executive director of the Four Host Nations Secretariat.
Just as important as making sure First Nation traditions are respected, said Joseph, is the work that must be done to ensure opportunities are taken advantage of. That includes raising the profile of First Nations people not just in B.C. but right across the country.
"The main thing we have (heard) from other First Nations is that while they respect our traditional territories, they want to come forward and work with us and identify some opportunities they might be able to participate in across the country, because they are Canadas Games really," said Joseph.
The next step is for members of the four host First Nations to form a board and then a secretariat, which will be able to work with VANOC to explore opportunities and responsibilities. Part of that might include what the role of First Nations might be in the opening and closing ceremonies.
VANOC chairman Jack Poole, who attended the ceremony to mark the signing of the protocol in Squamish last week, welcomed the agreement. He noted that the support of the First Nations people likely played a pivotal role in Vancouver securing the Games.
"To put it in its most simple terms we would not have won without the full support of the Lil'wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-waututh First Nations," said Poole. "The agreement of your four nations to work together as host nations for the 2010 Games is vital to our success.
" We shouldn't underestimate the signal that this protocol sends to the world, and to the thousands of Olympians that dream of coming here in 2010. That we are united, that we are working together, and that we'll be ready to welcome the world in 2010."
Joseph said many in the First Nations community are excited about the opportunity the Games represent and feel that the commitment made to them by VANOC make this Winter Games different from any that have gone before.
"What is different about this Games is that (VANOC) and also the International Organizing Committee have recognized the importance of including First Nations people and aboriginal people," said Joseph. "With (Squamish) Chief Gibby Jacobs appointment onto the (VANOC) board that is the first indigenous representation on any of the Games (Organizing committees) from what we can tell.
"I think these Games will be a lot different from (the 2002Winter Games at) Salt Lake or other Games because I think there is a willingness to come together by the organizing committee and the four host First Nations and other aboriginals."
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