Canada first nations challenge government over stolen land (Vancouver Olympics) 2010


The First Nations protesters demanded that the Vancouver Olympics not be held on stolen indigenous territory.

Time period notes

Opposition began in 2003, immediately after the Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC) bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The plan was to build the venues on unceded indigenous land, against the discretion of First Nations people. The first action occurred in 2008. The Olympic Games concluded on February 28, 2010.

Time period

October, 2008 to February, 2010



Location City/State/Province

Vancouver, British Columbia, Whistler, British Columbia

Location Description

The majority of the Olympic Games venues were in Vancouver, British Columbia, however, some of the skiing events were held in Whistler, British Columbia.
Jump to case narrative

Segment Length

85 days

Notes on Methods

Civil disobedience refers to when the AW@L organization blockaded the Olympic Spirit Train in October 2008.


Not known


Not known

External allies


Involvement of social elites

Not known


Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC), International Olympic Committee (IOC), Government of British Columbia, Government of Canada

Nonviolent responses of opponent

Not known.

Campaigner violence

Not known.

Repressive Violence

The B.C. government gave the police the right to arrest protesters and destroy any camps that were set up in the construction zone for the Sun Peaks Resort Expansion. This researcher did not uncover any examples of this happening.


Human Rights
National-Ethnic Identity



Group characterization

Canadian First Nations

Groups in 1st Segment


Additional notes on joining/exiting order

In my research, AW@L was the only organization that joined during the campaign.

Segment Length

85 days

Success in achieving specific demands/goals

0 out of 6 points


1 out of 1 points


2 out of 3 points

Total points

3 out of 10 points

Notes on outcomes

Although the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games still occurred, the campaign still achieved some success. The campaign put pressured the Canadian government to include indigenous traditions and ceremonial dances in the Opening Ceremonies. The Olympic Torch relay was also held in many indigenous communities.

Database Narrative

On 2 July 2003, the International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge made the announcement that Vancouver, British Columbia had been selected to host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The Vancouver government appointed the Vancouver Olympic Committee to organize and plan the Winter Games. The Vancouver Olympic Committee, the British Columbian government, and the Canadian government began planning to build the venues for the games. After choosing the venue locations, the International Olympic Committee realized that the land belonged to indigenous people, and was in fact un-ceded land. Un-ceded indigenous land can be classified as land that is not under the protection of a signed treaty, but requires the permission of the First Nations government before being developed. This decision was not released to the public, and construction started without the permission of the First Nations government. This outraged First Nations groups in British Columbia, Canada, prompting them to start the campaign known as “No Olympics on Stolen Native Land”. 

The Vancouver Olympic Committee attempted to incorporate First Nations traditions into the Vancouver Olympic Games. For example they chose the Inukshuk, an Inuit symbol that signifies that a person is on the right path, as the logo for the Vancouver Games. The Vancouver Olympic Committee further planned for the Olympic Torch relay to cross through at least one First Nations reserve in every province and territory in Canada. The International Olympic Committee decided that the opening ceremony would include First Nation traditions, such as ceremonial dances, rituals, and the sharing of gifts. Many First Nations people viewed these decisions as appropriative of Indigenous culture, especially given the illegal land seizure making the event possible. 

In November 2007, members from the Secwepemc First Nation called for a boycott of Sun Peaks Resort. Specifically, they opposed the plan to add 20,000 rooms and make upgrades to ski lifts on unauthorized Aboriginal land. The Vancouver government gave the local police the authority to arrest protesters and destroy any camps that were set up in the construction zone. However, no arrests were reported. 

In October 2008, an activist organization called AW@L based out of Waterloo joined the “No Olympics on Stolen Native Land” campaign and began demonstrating through nonviolent actions in Ontario, Canada. The organization blockaded the Olympic Spirit Train and organized a banner drop alongside members from the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, Canada. They also held marches against the Olympic Torch Relay passing through the Mohawk territory in Ontario.
On 12 February 2010, First Nations protesters in East Vancouver blocked the Olympic Torch relay during the final leg to the stadium, forcing the organizers to find an alternative route. Media attributed the detour to “hooligans” rather than protesters. 

28 February 2010 marked the conclusion of the Vancouver Olympic Games and therefore the end of the “No Olympics on Stolen Native Land” campaign. Although the campaign did not achieve its end goal which was to stop the Olympic Games being held on stolen Native land, it inspired the indigenous communities in British Columbia to continue their fight for equal rights and indigenous land treaties in British Columbia.


1. Hell No to Yellow Snow- which was a protest against the use of chemicals that were used to preserve and produce snow for the competitions because they would affect the environment.

Influenced by:
1. No One is Illegal- is a Vancouver campaign that advocates for the Coast Salish Indigenous Nation to have the same rights as all Canadians. This campaign started in August 2006.


Chan, S. (2013, September 1). 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games Revisited: A Worldwide Display of First Nations Exploitation? Retrieved November 17, 2013, from Globalist Outlook:
Fortier, C. (2013). No One is Illegal Movement and Anti-colonial Struggles from within the Nation-State. In L. L. Goldring, Producing and Negotiating Non-Citizenship (pp. 282-283). Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Hundert, A. (2009, November 30). No Olympics on Stolen Native Land. Retrieved November 17, 2013, from Narrative Resistance:
O'Bonsawin, C. (2012). Igniting a Resistance Movement: Understanding Indigenous Opposition to the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay. International Centre for Olympic Studies, 99-102.

Additional Notes

When I am referring to "First Nations" people I am referring to what Canadian people call indigenous people. However, people who live in other parts of the world may understand them as "Native Americans".

The reason that there was an absence of actions during segments 2-4 was because in the research that I conducted, there were not any examples of actions that took place during that time period.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy

Tyler Dusanek, 25/11/2013