“A Portrait of This Country”: Whiteness, Indigeneity, Multiculturalism and the Vancouver Opening Ceremonies
In this article, I examine how the performance of Canadian identity in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games opening ceremonies reflects the persistence of whiteness at the core of Canada’s multicultural identity. To this end, I analyze the cultural components of the Vancouver ceremonies and the coverage of this spectacle by Canadian television broadcaster CTV. This event is worthy of study because it marks a crucial moment of nation-building and representation for the Canadian nation before the world. In this formative and performative moment, organizers did not foreground multiculturalism as central to Canadian identity— problematic as liberal multiculturalism may be in the context of a structurally inequitable society. Instead, they chose to portray whiteness as the core of Canadian identity. While there is a significant acknowledgment of Canada’s Indigenous peoples in the ceremonies, this should not be seen as a celebration of diversity. Rather, Indigineity is appropriated as the origin of a national teleology that culminates in whiteness. Indeed, by locating the nation’s origins in Indigenous societies, the claim can be made that Canada is essentially multicultural, and thus, that no further representation or acknowledgment of non-white people is necessary.
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