Vancouver Olympics on Stolen Native Land Increases Homelessness

1 03 2010

Vancouver Olympics increased homelessness
Sunday, February 28, 2010
By: Sean Pavey

International games take place on stolen Native lands

In the time between when the International Olympic Committee selected Vancouver to host the games and the opening ceremonies, homelessness in the city more than doubled. Some 1,300 single resident occupancy hotel units, which house many of the community’s poorer residents, have been eliminated in the area.

A tent city for the homeless has developed in the shadow of the stadium where the games have been played.

Of all the homeless, 32 percent are from the indigenous population. The stolen Native lands where the games are being played have been the subjects of multiple lawsuits against the Canadian government. Justice has been denied for years.

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Vancouver, demanding money for people’s needs. The city of Vancouver has appropriated over $6 billion for the games. This extraordinary amount being spent on the games, with over $1 billion going towards “security,” amounts to the plundering of the city’s public treasury while Vancouver faces growing homelessness, cuts to education and health care, and major infringements on the civil rights of community organizers.

Organizers of the protests have also called for a complete withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan.

The organizers of the demonstrations have been the victims of police harassment at home and at work. Police have used undercover agents to spy on protesters, have initiated email and phone surveillance and have purchased the same sonic weaponry used against demonstrators at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh in September 2009. The use of megaphones has been banned near Olympic events.

In Vancouver, like many other host Olympic cities, corporate firms in the tourism and real estate industries receive government aid while workers and oppressed people pay for the games in higher fees and taxes and the gutting of essential public services like housing.

The tremendous abilities and performances of trained athletes—and the enjoyment of the Olympics by millions of people—are a direct result of the disciplined individual effort of the participants and above all of humanity’s great advancements in technology and the production of wealth.

International sporting events like the Olympics have the potential to be occasions for all peoples to come together to celebrate our achievements and increase solidarity. Today, they function as a reflection of our possibilities and a reminder that the fight will go on until all workers and oppressed peoples have the right to, and equal access to, athletic activity all year long and until the day when people come before profits.


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