Vancouver 2010-Alright, where’s Canada?


Yesterday, the Vancouver 2010 Olympics officially started. But I’m sure you knew that already, and I don’t intend to be a news broadcaster.

Yesterday, too, I watched the opening ceremonies at BC place(well, I watched them on a big screen TV). It was, largely, pretty good. Quite the spectacle. But all the way through it, I could not help but think “Where’s Canada?”

There were only a few things that I felt really were Canada. Chief among them was the speech-a big, chubby guy, wearing red, with a beard, just belting out a speech, full of enthusiasm, that talked about Canada. He mentioned Canada’s politeness, the way we say zed instead of zee, and, though he didn’t mention how we all live in igloos and ride polar bears, I’m sure he just didn’t have enough time.

Which actually brings me to another point, one of the things that bugged me the most about the opening ceremony. Contrary to what it might make any viewer’s believe, not all Canadians are natives!

I mean, I get that it’s always like this-every opening ceremony talks(shows) about the culture of the country. Admittedly, I haven’t sen any of the other opening cermonies, but I’ve heard about soem of the things at other ones. The Beijing Olympics, for example, had the showing of all of China’s ethnic groups-ignoring the scandal that it was all just Han Chinese-and that, I believe, was a good idea. It actually represents China, being all the peoples of the country and all. However, dancing natives, hat-wearing Mounties, fiddling Scots, and tap-dancing whatevers, are sterotypes of Canada, not actually Canada.

Obviously, they aren’t going to show a bunch of people walking around and then call it day. While realistic, that might not be the best idea. But there are other aspects of Canada than wolf-wearing natives and fiddling! I liked some of the performances-the dance showing the vastness of the Plains certainly did did fulfill that goal(though I don’t love that kind of dance), and it is what it represents here that is important.

Now for the counter to the counter-argument here. I’m sure there will be at least some who say “But this was the land of the aboriginals! They are the true Canadians, and should be represented as much as they deserve!”, and that say that the Mounties and such are part of Canadian tradition. But…while this is true to a certain degree, this degree isn’t very large. I think natives, mounties, and everything else should be represented, for they are a part of our culture, but not overly so.

The 2010 Vancouver Opening ceremony should have thought more about Canada, and less about stereotypes.

6 thoughts on “Vancouver 2010-Alright, where’s Canada?

  1. I completely agree Liam. I was thinking about that long and hard…why would they do that. After a while, I realized that truly, that is our only “completely unique” factor of Vancouver/Canada. Within Vancouver, the greatness comes from the beauty of our nature, but that cannot be easily reflected in this kind of situation. I guess its really what the world wants to hear. Though I do find that the First Nations were completely overdone – since when do the First Nations welcome the world. And when was the last time I saw a First Nation in the street?
    Stereotypes are what satisfy the world. I think about both sides of the arguement, and find that it was way overdone, but overall it was a good job and I think Vancouver should be proud.

  2. That makes a lot of sense Liam, the opening ceremonies weren’t completely representative of Canada (although they were quite spectacular). This makes me think though- what do other countries think of the way they’ve represented themselves at previous Olympics? For example,I’ve heard complaints about the mascots being too ‘Asian,’ too commercial and not at all representative of Vancouver. I read your above questioning of the opening ceremonies and wonder if this is really the first time that has happened.

    How many cities have hosted the Olympics and had very similar experiences with regards to money, space, and the way the display their home to the rest of the world? Are we giving a skewed image who Canadians in this area are? Have we been given wrong ideas about people from around the world and their respective homes? Perhaps the excitement of the Olympics makes people over reach themselves.

    All in all, I think you bring up an interesting point. However, what you didn’t mention, is how would YOU have represented Canada in something such as the Olympic opening ceremonies…

  3. Jonathan-that’s a good point, actually. While natives are, of course, all through north america, they are something that seem more closely identified with the “Wild western coast” than,say, Saskatchewan, though I am sure there are just as many or more natives there than here.

    Katie-I think all olympics give a skewed perception of their people. On the mascots, though-how can they be too asian? Vancouver is just Asia away from Asia. Nah, I’m just kidding.
    I really don’t have a good idea for how they could have done it. I realize that it isn’t quite right to criticize something without offering a better solution, but I do believe that I have the right to say what not to do. That just might be it.

  4. I agree. The mascots look like they’re straight out of a manga magazine and the first 20-ish minutes of the ceremonies were of natives doing things that that natives probably haven’t done for many years (how many of them really dress like that nowadays).

    BUT,the stereotypes of Canada, (and of all countries really) are so strong, that if you suddenly portray the truth at an event like the opening ceremonies, the global communities will be a mixture of confused and disappointed because they expect Canadians to ride polar bears and live in igloos. I don’t think this problem is specific to Canada, after all do all British people really eat crumpets and drink tea all day? Probably not, but thats what the media portrays and so thats what we believe.

    Stereotypes make things easier and people are lazy so they believe stereotypes. On the odd occasion, a stereotype turns out to be true, but for the most part, they are a mix of media lies and the lives of people a hundred years ago.

  5. You sound so intelligent Nick… You seriously understand stereotypes, I like how you got your point across so clearly. Stereotypes are what people expect to see, and it’s not like the were harming anyone. They just weren’t entirely accurate.

    As for the mascots… Even if they are really Asian/Manga looking, I have to admit, I really like them. Although, a big part of this is probably because they’re completely adorable and have this really awesome, childish stories behind them. Admittedly, I didn’t really notice or think about the mascots until about a week ago. Still, Quatchi, Miga, Sumi, and Mukmuk are probably satisfying a lot of the people for the same reason they make me really happy.

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