Thursday, November 01, 2007

Churchill clashes with Graham daughter, denounces Olympic development

The Canadian swing continues. The Straight:

A controversial American scholar was given a hostile reception by B.C.'s Native community on October 28. Speaking at an anti-Olympic event put on by the Anti-Poverty Committee at Vancouver's Ukrainian Hall, Ward Churchill was confronted immediately after taking the stage.

Chusia Graham, daughter of John Graham, an East Vancouver Native man who is facing extradition to the U.S. for the alleged murder of a woman in 1976, confronted Churchill over his lack of support for her father. Churchill, who claims he is a member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, took Graham's questions but was visibly frustrated by the delay.

"This isn't fair," one member of the audience shouted. But the crowd of about 100 seemed split on whether to intervene or allow the questions to continue. Churchill protested in jest, "Welcome to Vancouver," his arms held high.
Strangely, the piece never details Graham's questions or Ward's answers to them, but quickly moves on:

The confrontation underscored a broader divide within B.C.'s Native community over the 2010 Winter Olympics. Some B.C. Native leaders argue that the Games should be regarded as an opportunity to advance Native rights. However, others view the high-profile event as a threat to dwindling resources and the beginning of the end for their traditional way of life. . . .

Ward Churchill, speaking to the Straight in a UBC classroom the day after the APC event, conceded that certain members of the Native community would profit from the Olympics. But, he added, "The overall economic calculation that would have to be applied in having a rational assessment in the destruction of the land, the forfeiture of rights, and the collaboration, and all the rest of that…the net loss would exceed any kind of profit." . . .

Good old Ward, always with the people's interests at heart. Somehow though, his opinion isn't universally held:

But such concerns don't seem to be troubling some B.C. Native leaders. Bill Williams, hereditary chief of the Squamish Nation, is a member of the chief executive board of the Four Host First Nations Society, a group of chiefs and council members from the four First Nations groups on whose land Olympic events are scheduled to be held. He argued that there was no reason any Native Canadian, or even Native American, should be excluded from the opportunities provided by the 2010 Olympics.

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