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BC Minister says Olympic role will be found for Mi'kmaq choir

The British Columbia government is looking for opportunities for a Mi'kmaq children's choir to sing at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, aboriginal relations and reconciliation minister George Abbott said today.

“It appeared obviously that some expectations were created,” Abbott said. “I'm sure that the premier was very impressed by the choir when he heard it and I'm sure he was waxing enthusiastic about the choir and its potential.”

Two years ago, Campbell heard the Se't A'newey First Nation Choir, which is based in Conne River, Newfoundland, sing at the National Aboriginal Women's Summit in Corner Brook. Campbell attended the event with Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams and was so impressed he invited the choir to sing at the opening ceremonies for the games.

Last week Mi'kmaq chief Misel Joe said the 15-member, four-drummer choir had been “uninvited” to the Olympics, despite having spent two years preparing for the performance. Campbell should apologize to the children, Joe told the Tyee.

“We are looking for some solutions to that issue,” Abbott told reporters today. “There's an opportunity for the kids to perform at the aboriginal showcase at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and also the day before or the day after an aboriginal business showcase. Those I think are exciting opportunities but we want to discuss them with the choir first and with the Chief and see if those would work for them.”

VANOC is responsible for the opening and closing ceremonies, Abbott said. “There may be an opportunity for them there as well.”

“I think there's lots of things we can do to make sure people are included and our job is to include people in the Olympics,” Campbell told Vancouver's CKNW radio on the weekend in response to a question about his reneged invitation to the choir.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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