Mayor Gregor Robertson, City of Vancouver Olympic torchbearers, two Olympians and the co-designer of the Olympic medals helped carry the spirit of the Olympic Torch and Olympic Winter Games to the Aboriginal Friendship Centre today, recreating some of the buzz of the Torch Relay that was diverted from the neighbourhood.
“The torch helped connect us as Canadians and brought people together from every corner of our country and our city,” Mayor Robertson said. “I'm glad we could come back to the Aboriginal Friendship Centre today and bring some of the torch spirit to those who missed out."
The visit was arranged to help diminish some of the disappointment in the Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood when the Olympic Torch Relay, scheduled to pass through the community, was diverted for security reasons.
The Mayor was joined Wednesday by three Aboriginal torchbearers: City of Vancouver staff member, Pam Leech, from the St’at’imc Nation in Lillooet, BC; Robert Milton, a soccer player and community organizer who plays on Vancouver's Homeless Soccer Team, the East Side Sun Eagles; and Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre youth worker, James Naknakin.
First Nations contemporary artist Corinne Hunt, co-designer of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games medals, told the gathering the Olympic medals evoke British Columbia’s mountains, ocean and snow. The faces, she said, are drawn from West Coast First Nations artwork depicting the orca and the raven.
The Mayor told the gathering of elders, children, families and guests, including Canadian free style skier, Veronica Brenner, who won a silver medal at the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Games, and Marion Lay, Olympic bronze medal swimmer in the 1964 and 1968 Olympics, that he is hopeful an Olympian may emerge from the Centre’s new Sports and Recreation Academy.
“The Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre provides a tremendous service to Aboriginal youth in our city,” Mayor Robertson said. “Through your new sports program, youth will have the chance to play and practice all kinds of sports, and perhaps even be inspired to strive for an Olympic medal!”
Mayor Robertson gave the Centre a special volleyball, which will be followed by a full set of volleyball equipment, custom designed and installed in the Centre’s new sports facility. The funds for the equipment are provided from the Olympic Legacy Fund.
Photo credit: City of Vancouver