As a Canadian Studies major, I regularly receive invitations to “The World Needs More Canada” lecture series. I regularly open them, think to myself, “The world needs less patriotism,” and then discard the message. Generally the emails are inoffensive, if not mildly humorous, in their honest conviction that the world would really be a better place with more Ken Drydens and Joe Clarks running around. Humorous in a quaint sort of way – I would never argue that the world would be worse with another Ken Dryden; it would probably just be exactly the same.
However, the most recent “cordial invitation” I received was akin to being invited to a lecture entitled “The Environment Needs More Tar Sands.” The November 22 lecture in the series features Richard Pound, speaking about his role in the International Olympic Committee (IOC). If, forever whatever unlikely reason, the world really did need more Canada, offering Dick Pound as representative of that idea is like offering an atom bomb as a peace treaty. Richard Pound is representative of the very worst of this country: his “slip-of-the-tongue” comment about the pre-colonial land of “savages” was not a simple mishap in diction. Nobody accidentally refers to Indigenous peoples as savages unless they’ve thought it before. Furthermore, his “notable achievements” with the IOC essentially confirm the complete disregard he has for Indigenous peoples, as the connection between the Olympics and the ongoing neo-colonization of unceded Indigenous territory is hardly difficult to perceive.
The Vancouver 2010 Olympics were probably the most hideous display of false nationalism I’ve ever witnessed. We all saw the opening ceremony – traditional Indigenous dancing in neon costumes? This flagrant tokenization of Native peoples said to the world, “Look at us. Look how much we love our Indigenous people,” as it calmly swept our genocidal tendencies under the rug. The gentrification of the Downtown Eastside showed the world how beautiful and cosmopolitan the city is while quietly letting the homeless freeze to death in the streets, and the pretty images of the BC’s gorgeous, rugged landscapes were broadcast constantly across the globe even as VANOC quickly ran a highway through the Eagle Ridge Bluffs, leading to the death of an elderly indigenous woman protesting the expansion who caught pneumonia in jail. This is what Dick Pound brings to the world; this is what his “achievements” promote and perpetuate: poverty, racism, death, and environmental degradation.
As far I was concerned (and correct me if I’m wrong), racism, poverty, and ecocide were included in the “things we don’t want for the world” category. You know, the things we are trying to destroy. So I would like to politely decline your cordial invitation to the lecture, and ask that you strongly reconsider what the world really does need before you go about infiltrating the public consciousness with these disgusting, misguided ideas of nationalism and progress.
Hilary Angus is a U2 Canadian Studies student. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.