The three mascots and a sidekick for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver were inspired by traditional First Nations creatures,andintroduced Tuesdayto800 schoolchildren at the Bell Performing Arts Centre in Surrey, B.C.
Miga isa mythical First Nations sea bearthat is part killer whale and part Kermode spirit bear.
Miga was based onthe legends of the Pacific Northwest First Nations of orca whales that transform into bears when they arrive on land, but isalso a snowboarder.
Quatchi isa sasquatch,but a shy and gentle giant, thatloves all winter sports,and is especially fond of hockey and dreams of becoming a world-famous goalie.
The third mascot, Sumi, is an animal-guardian spirit who wears the hat of the orca whale, flies with the wings of the mighty Thunderbird and runs on the furry legs of the black bear.
Thethree creatures'sidekick isMukmuk, a rare Vancouver Island marmot.
Whilenot officially a mascot, Mukmuk enjoys surprising his friends by popping up on occasion.
Mukmuk's name comes from the Squamish word for food— muckamuck — because he loves to eat.
The mascots and sidekick were designed by the Vancouver-based company Meomi Design andintroduced by the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee.
There was no shortage of opinion on the characters after they were revealed, with hundreds of comments submitted to CBCNews.ca. Some were positive:
"These mascots are exposing kids to the fact that Canada is a diverse place, one with different cultures and strengths. They are teaching kids, perhaps indirectly, to be open minded and forgiving of others," wrote Celeste from Kelowna.
"They're adorable, admittedly. The purpose of a mascot is to be marketable and make money (usually through blatant pandering to children) and they've achieved a victory in that category," wrote Noemi Pomerleau of Vancouver.
But the overwhelming majority of comments submitted were negative, criticizing the Pokemon look of the characters and highlighting confusion over what sort of creature they represented.
Fred Allnutt from Gibsons wrote: "If the kids enjoy them I guess they're all right. But … nobody will know what they are unless it is explained to them."
"Vancouver and British Columbia should be ashamed that Pokemon was elected to represent Canada," David wrote from Toronto.
"I'm disappointed," Patricia from Kelowna wrote. "Would have loved a cute, cuddly 'spirit' bear. Perhaps something we could all relate to."