Olympic organizers and First Nations representatives signed an agreement Wednesday to help guide how indigenous people can access Games opportunities.
"It is a beautiful day for First Nations in British Columbia and Canada to now be full participants on the world stage," said Squamish Chief Bill Williams, one of the signatories to the protocol that was unveiled during a ceremony in North Vancouver.
"What this does is create the vehicle for us as First Nations and (the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games) to work together to make sure that our First Nation views are looked at in 2010s development."
The four nations involved are Squamish, Lilwat, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh. The protocol lays out an understanding that much of the Games will take place on First Nations traditional territory.
It also covers a number of issues, including an increased opportunity to showcase art and culture, skills development and training, lasting social and economic opportunities, improved health and education of communities though sport, economics and cultural development, a youth sport legacy, and involvement in arts festivals and the opening and closing ceremonies.
There is no funding attached to the protocol, but it does state VANOC will: "recognize the need for, and use its best efforts to assist the Four Host First Nations Secretariat to secure the necessary resources for the Four Host First Nations to fulfill their role as Host Nations."
Jack Poole, chairman of the board of directors for VANOC said: "This Protocol outlines how were going to continue working together, to achieve an unprecedented level of aboriginal participation in our Games, not just because we should, but because its going to make our Games more interesting, and more memorable."
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