Cowichan Tribes reach Olympic sweater deal
Last Updated: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 | 10:40 AM PT
Members of the Cowichan Tribes say they are no longer planning to protest during the Olympic torch relay later this week, after reaching a deal to sell their traditional sweaters at the Olympic Games.
The Vancouver Island First Nations had planned to line up along part of the torch relay route wearing their Cowichan sweaters and tuques as a sign of protest, after the Hudson's Bay Company decided to sell knock-offs of their traditional hand-knit designs as official Olympic merchandise during the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.
'We've had a lot of our knitters who have gotten a lot of orders as a result.'—Cowichan Tribes general manager Ernie Elliot
But band members said they'll now wear their sweaters as a "show of pride" after a meeting with VANOC and the Bay on Tuesday.
The Cowichan Tribes general manager Ernie Elliot said they were offered a licensing deal that would allow them to sell their original designs in the First Nations Pavilion and at the Bay's flagship store in Vancouver.
"We felt pretty good about that, pretty positive.… We have a trademark that we are going to brand the sweaters with, along with their brand," said Elliot.
Cowichan native knitters were upset when they saw the knock-off sweater design worn by the woman in this photo. (CBC)And business is already booming because of the controversy, which was even raised by the Opposition NDP in question period in the legislature, he said.
"We've had a lot of our knitters who have gotten a lot of orders as a result of all the publicity. So it's had that kind of positive effect," said Elliot.
The Bay also offered to have Cowichan knitters knit the Bay's Olympic design, but the knitters didn't want to because it is someone else's design, he said.
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