Aboriginal involvement in Games makes history
Aboriginal people across Canada are hoping their involvement in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver will have a lasting legacy.
The Games mark the first time in the history of the Olympics that indigenous peoples have been recognized as official partners.
In that role, the four Host First Nations — a group that represents the four bands whose traditional lands are home to the Vancouver Olympics — were asked to play a prominent part in the opening ceremony on Friday.
Chibon Little Bear Everstz, 23, from the Mohawk First Nation in Quebec, was one of the dancers in the celebration.
"Every nation, every region really, worked together to create something amazing," he said.
"We made history that night. That's something, for me personally, I'm going to take home and knowing in my heart … that I was one of the 300 youth for the first time in history who, as aboriginal indigenous people, welcomed the world to our home, to our lands."
The ceremony was also a way for Canada's aboriginal people to learn more about each other.
Everstz said the last couple of weeks have been a time for aboriginal people from across the country to share songs, dance and stories.
"I've learned so much that I will bring home to share with my community, with my family, with my friends even," he said.
"It's changed me, without a doubt it changed me — I think it changed everyone here."
Everstz said he hopes to be an example for his community and for other indigenous people around the world.
Maddy McCallum, a 27-year-old a Métis dancer from northern Saskatchewan, said participating in the Games has been a great opportunity to showcase her culture to the world.
But she said it's also helping erase some of the painful scars in her people's history.
"Representing for your family and representing for your people — you're not only building your confidence, you're also building your family's confidence, too, and that's what it's about."