Treaty 7 chiefs signal support for Calgary 2026 Olympic bid

Treaty 7 First Nations are signalling their approval of Calgary's potential 2026 Winter Olympic bid.

CEO of Treaty 7 First Nations Chiefs' Association cites 3 main reasons for supporting bid effort

Anne Many Heads, CEO of Treaty 7 First Nations Chiefs’ Association says there’s three main reasons for the group supporting the Calgary 2026 Olympic bid. (Colin Hall/CBC)

Treaty 7 First Nations are signaling their approval of Calgary's potential 2026 Winter Olympic bid.

In a news release Friday, the chiefs of Treaty 7 say that while they were not "collectively" consulted, they gave serious consideration to the cost, impact and benefits of Calgary bidding for the 2026 Games and they support and consent to the city hosting.

Anne Many Heads, CEO of Treaty 7 First Nations Chiefs' Association says there are three main reasons for the support.

"One is, as you're aware, in Canada there's a move toward reconciliation between Canadians and First Nations, so we see this as an opportunity to build the relationships with government, with industry, with agencies and to continue to move that forward," she said. 

Legacy and opportunity are the two others, she added.

"Obviously there will be opportunities and benefits but more so, we're looking toward the opportunities that will be created for the younger generations to come, so for our First Nations youth," she said.

"This event is showcased on a national stage, that we have the opportunity to showcase the Indigenous culture and history that exists here with in the Treaty 7 territory."

Many Heads said some Treaty 7 members were initially disappointed that all members weren't consulted.

"But I think the matter here is that we don't necessarily want to focus on the negative aspect," she said. "I think going forward, we've made some significant movement toward building the relationship."

She also pointed out the chiefs of Treaty 7 appointed a member in July — Strater Crowfoot — to sit on Calgary 2026 bid corporation board to represent their interests.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he welcomes the support.

"I'm very pleased. One of the things that this bid is based on is community, in fact, the first principal is 'better together,'" he said.

"And an important part of that is being inclusive of everyone in this region and especially being inclusive of the Treaty 7 and Metis neighbours. The Bid Corporation includes Treaty 7 and Metis representation, that was very important to me and I'm very happy to hear about this."

Nenshi said they bid corporation is looking at the successful Vancouver 2010 Olympic bid as example of how to engage with Indigenous communities.

Calgarians will vote Nov. 13 in a non-binding plebiscite on whether the city should bid on hosting the Games. 

The bid corporation says hosting will cost about $5.2 billion with about $3 billion coming from taxpayers from all levels of government. The rest should be covered by private funds like IOC funding, merchandising and ticket sales.

The International Olympic Committee will announce the 2026 host city in September 2019.