Paralympics multi-medallist Richard Peter of the Cowichan Tribes, a member of the Indigenous-led B.C. bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, believes the Games could provide a powerful stride toward reconciliation.
“This could be one more step in that direction as we move together as a team,” said Peter, the Paralympic athlete ambassador for the bid group.
The bid is being led by the Squamish, Líl̓wat, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations in partnership with the City of Vancouver, Resort Municipality of Whistler, Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee. The bid group held an update media conference Tuesday in Whistler.
“This is unique as the first ever indigenous-led bid to host an Olympic and Paralympic Games,” said Peter, who won three Summer Paralympics gold medals with the Canadian wheelchair basketball team at Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, London 2012 and silver at Beijing 2008.
“We can show the world that we are ready for this, and that it’s an idea whose time has come,” added Peter, 49, a paraplegic since being run over by a school bus at age four in Duncan.
The bid group said the process has moved from the feasibility stage into the concept stage, with the financial plan to be detailed in the coming weeks.
“As we navigated the feasibility phase, our Nations … truly [explored] what it would mean to host an Indigenous-led Olympic and Paralympic Games,” said Musqueam Chief Wayne Sparrow, in a statement.
“With the release of the Games concept, we can finally begin to share that we are ready to welcome the world back to our territory and create new paths towards reconciliation through sport.”
The concept involves using many of the facilities from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and Paralympics with other existing facilities around the province A Victoria group is pushing for curling to be held at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. It was announced Tuesday that Sun Peaks Ski Resort near Kamloops would host snowboard and freestyle skiing events on the traditional territories of the Adams Lake, Little Shuswap Lake and Neskonlith Indian Bands.
The Games concept calls for a mostly privately-funded Games but the security tab would have to be public and could be significant. Asked if there were other more important priorities in the province, Peter replied: “There was a backlash against the 2010 Games in the lead-up, but by the end, they were embraced by B.C. and across Canada.”
Peter said an Indigenous-led 2030 B.C. Winter Olympics would send a compelling statement to the world.
“Sport opened so many doors for me, and I hope this bid will do so for others, and inspire many,” he said.
“I was proud during my international career to represent both the Cowichan Tribes and Canada and both my Indigenous and Canadian cultures.”
The vote on where the 2030 Winter Games will be held will take place in 2023 during an International Olympic Committee session in Mumbai, India. Other cities bidding for the 2030 Winter Games are Salt Lake City, Utah; Sapporo, Japan; and Barcelona-Pyrenees, Spain. International reports have indicated Sapporo and Salt Lake City are the strong co-favourites at this point.