VANCOUVER, Feb. 11 /CNW/ - To the thumping rhythms of Aboriginal drumming and hip hop, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, hosted a spirited celebration today of Canada's multicultural identity and the ability of sport to inspire peace.
On the eve of the opening of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, more than 500 young leaders from across the country, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis youth involved in the Vancouver 2010 Indigenous Youth Gathering, came together to participate in the GG's 2010 Olympic Truce Youth Dialogue: Promoting Mutual Understanding at the Vancouver Public Library in downtown Vancouver.
The youth were delighted to discuss global issues and peace with dignitaries and leaders such as His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco; Canadian astronaut Julie Payette; Pascal Couchepin, Grand Témoin de la Francophonie; Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo; and Justice Murray Sinclair, chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
"Joining these indigenous youth leaders from across Canada is absolutely a powerful and life changing opportunity," explained Chibon T. Everstz, a participant and member of the Kahnawake Mohawk Nation. "I am humbled and honoured to represent my people at such an important gathering of culture and nations."
Alyssa Harrison of Langley, BC, added: "I think it's one of Canada's greatest strengths and sources of pride that we are able to acknowledge and embrace the individuality and beauty of the diverse cultures and peoples that comprise this beautiful country."
As patron of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Truce, the Governor General has held similar dialogues across the country to encourage young people to become ambassadors of peace and solidarity and empower them to create a more compassionate, just and fraternal world. The upbeat conversation style of these public forums encourages young people to share and hear from others their age, as well as be inspired by the life stories and experiences of Olympic athletes, foreign dignitaries, government officials, and other special guests.
"At the heart of the Olympic Truce is the idea that sport can inspire peace and the 2010 Olympic Winter Games are a great example of how this can happen," said John Furlong, CEO of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC). "This 17-day event here in Canada will show how people from different nations, cultures, and religions can put aside their differences and compete in the spirit of excellence and friendship. And, if it can be done for 17 days, why not for a longer period of time? It shows us all what is possible when we try."
Since its inception in 2009, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Truce Program has focused on taking a grassroots approach to explore how peace, mutual understanding, inclusion and co-operation can be used in communities to resolve many of the common challenges faced by society today. Through a number of initiatives surrounding the theme "Make Your Peace," the program has encouraged Canadians and the world to adopt a philosophy of peace in their lives and communities.
This idea is beautifully demonstrated in Room to Make Your Peace, an interactive art installation located at the library where people turn their peace reflections into delicate pieces of origami and send them into flight. Participants at the youth dialogue added their thoughts on peace to the installation, which members of the public and the online community are contributing to during the Games period.
These small "peace" creations, each with their own little LED light, collect high above the pedestrian atrium and shimmer in the air as the collective art piece grows in size with each contribution. The installation reminds us that peace requires intention and action.
The GG's Youth Dialogue is part of the Sharing the Dream Webcast Series, a Ministry of Education-led component of the Vancouver 2010 Education Program where senior leadership students conduct live online interviews of renowned people on topics related to the overarching theme of global citizenship and to components of the Vancouver 2010 Education Program.
A webcast of the GG's Youth Dialogue is available at www.sharingthedream.gov.bc.ca/resources/webcasts/welcome.php as part of the British Columbia Ministry of Education's Sharing the Dream webcast series. The webcast is also available at www.gg.ca.
About the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Truce
The philosophy of the Olympic Truce is simple: sport can inspire peace. In 2010, athletes will set aside their political, religious and social differences and compete on a level playing field in the pursuit of excellence. Their sportsmanship and behaviour are examples of how countries and individuals can find constructive ways to uphold the values of respect and friendship.
The 2010 Winter Games mark the first time Canada has been responsible for leading Olympic Truce efforts since the ancient tradition, dating back to 776 BC in Greece, was revitalized in 1992. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, is patron of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Truce. For more information, visit www.olympictruce.org.
VANOC is responsible for the planning, organizing, financing and staging of the XXI Olympic Winter Games and the Paralympic Winter Games in 2010. The 2010 Olympic Winter Games will be staged in Vancouver and Whistler from February 12 to 28, 2010. Vancouver and Whistler will host the Paralympic Winter Games from March 12 to 21, 2010. Visit www.vancouver2010.com.
SOURCE VANCOUVER ORGANIZING COMMITTEE FOR THE 2010 OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES
For further information: For further information: Media Contacts: VANOC Communications, Tel: (604) 403-1611, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; For information about the Governor General's Youth Dialogue: Marie-Ève Létourneau, Rideau Hall Press Office, Tel: (613) 998-0287, Cell: (613) 302-0219, E-mail: email@example.com; For information about the Indigenous Youth Gathering: Dallas Squire, Four Host First Nations Communications, Tel: (778) 990-9545, E-mail: FHFNcommunications@gmail.com; For information about Sharing the Dream: Public Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Education, Tel: (250) 356-5963