Group opposes Olympic relay

Local activist group Anti-War at Laurier (AW@L) has recently released a statement of protest against the Olympic torch relay which is scheduled to stop in Kitchener on Dec. 27 for an evening celebration of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.

“The torch explicitly brings all the injustices and oppressions of the Olympics into our own communities,” explained fourth-year Laurier student and AW@L member Adam Lewis.

Citing the negative socio-economic and environmental impacts of the games, as well as the oppression of indigenous people – resulting from the failure of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to seek the appropriate permission from native groups to hold the games on their land – Lewis and the other members of AW@L have condemned both the Olympics in general and the torch celebration.

Last week ,the group sent a letter to the mayor of Kitchener, Carl Zehr, to raise their concerns.

“Some people will object and some people will support it,” said Zehr in response to this letter.
Despite the criticisms that the event has received, Zehr noted that the city is “pleased to be a part of it.”

“Generally speaking I think that the public is very much in favour of the event and will be pleased to be part of this as a celebration of sport.”

AW@L member and former Laurier student Dan Kellar notes that while he opposes the games, he thinks that controversial events such as the torch relay have the ability to raise a discourse about current sociological problems.

“The Olympics are giving us an amazing forum to bring together all of these issues right across the country,” said Kellar. “It’s giving us an opportunity that hasn’t existed before.”

Kellar notes that ideally he would like to see the upcoming event torch relay cancelled, yet in reality he recognizes that this likely won’t happen.

“[The city’s] head is in the sand. They’re using this as only a celebration of culture, they’re ignoring the negative impacts that exist in B.C. and in Kitchener.”

Kellar notes that if the event is not cancelled AW@L will take action against it when the torch comes to KW in late December.

“We will resist it,” said Kellar. “I can’t really go into details, but yeah we will resist it.”

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