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'Insensitive' opening ceremonies lacked French: report

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'Insensitive' opening ceremonies lacked French: report

By: The Canadian Press

Date: Tuesday Dec. 14, 2010 8:57 PM PT

The lack of French at the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics spoke to a "cultural insensitivity" among organizers and missed an important chance to highlight this country's bilingualism to the world, the official languages watchdog says.

Commissioner Graham Fraser released his final report on the Games on Tuesday. He said overall, organizers did a good job including French during the Games, from the official Olympic website to bilingual signs at sports venues to ensuring blue-jacket volunteers greeted visitors with "Hello" and "Bonjour."

But he says those achievements were overshadowed by an opening ceremonies in which most of the entertainment and performances were entirely in English, prompting angry rebukes from politicians, athletes and the public.

"The problem -- and where we got the bulk of the complaints -- was the show, the cultural content in which the host country at the Olympics presents the face of the country," Fraser said in an interview... (continued)

Full article: CTV BC: 'Insensitive' opening ceremonies lacked French: report

:rolleyes:

Did someone forget Garou sang in French, and O Canada was bilingual?

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Is "most" the key word here? So two songs, well one really since you don't count the anthem. But to be fair, all announcements, speeches, and narration should have been in both English and French, or at least some subtitling on projection screens.

Simply put, there should have been more, and when Quebec eventually hosts an Olympics, they'll put Vancouver to shame with equal representation of English and French (aside from obvious factors like singing artists and such, announcements, speeches, narration etc will be bilingual).

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Is "most" the key word here? So two songs, well one really since you don't count the anthem. But to be fair, all announcements, speeches, and narration should have been in both English and French, or at least some subtitling on projection screens.

Simply put, there should have been more, and when Quebec eventually hosts an Olympics, they'll put Vancouver to shame with equal representation of English and French (aside from obvious factors like singing artists and such, announcements, speeches, narration etc will be bilingual).

That's what you would think, but highly unlikely. Quebeckers are hostile to any "Anglo" language and presence as is. Just about the only ones who care about bilingualism in English Canada are French-Canadians. Talk to them about bilingualism in Quebec, though, and they start singing a different tune out of the other side of their face.

And no, there shouldn't have been more. It was just right. The economics and actual reality need to be considered: many, many more people speak Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Punjabi, and other languages than French. The West Coast of Canada is very multilingual, and French is a tiny portion of that.

The report also states that there were too few French-speaking volunteers at the venues. Reality check: something like only 4% of British Columbians speak French. What do you expect?

Far too much money has been spent on promoting bilingualism in this country, billions and billions are wasted each year on having bilingualism in regions that have a very tiny French speaking populace. Once again Ottawa demonstrates it's irrelevance to the West Coast. We're tired of the same old 17th century English / French debate at a time when Mandarin might well become the 2nd language of the West Coast.

It's about time that the "word counters" in Ottawa take time and listen to British Columbia....and if Quebec could also contribute it share for Confederation, that would also be quite ideal.

And no, if the narration at the Opening Ceremony was also in French it would have been choppy as hell. It would have been far too long, and it would have broken much of the artistic flow of the entire ceremony.

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And no, if the narration at the Opening Ceremony was also in French it would have been choppy as hell. It would have been far too long, and it would have broken much of the artistic flow of the entire ceremony.

Perhaps Donald Sutherland doesn't know how to speak French? ;)

I thought it was just right, but it could've used a little more cowbell... B)

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Quebec city will never host the Winter Olympic. They are pissed off after this report http://www.nationalpost.com/news/canada/Quebec+mountain+dashes+city+Olympic+dreams+again/3971641/story.html. & now they are taking their anger toward Vancouver.

Is "most" the key word here? So two songs, well one really since you don't count the anthem. But to be fair, all announcements, speeches, and narration should have been in both English and French, or at least some subtitling on projection screens.

Simply put, there should have been more, and when Quebec eventually hosts an Olympics, they'll put Vancouver to shame with equal representation of English and French (aside from obvious factors like singing artists and such, announcements, speeches, narration etc will be bilingual).

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Although I agree had the narrations been in both French and English it would have been too long, I did feel as though the country as a hole was not represented very well. In fact, Thinking back I cant recall any segment which represented Canada at all. It all seemed so random and uninspired.

I think had the ceremonies been directed by a Canadian, it would be a totally different story.

Edited by cormiermax
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I wasn't even born in this country but yet I see Canada in that Opening ceremony. The Orca whale, the totem pole, emily carr from the west coast. The first nations from different parts of Canada, the Prairies where the young man was flying, the group of seven's painting that was projected on the mountain section. The celtic influence....etc.

Although I agree had the narrations been in both French and English it would have been too long, I did feel as though the country as a hole was not represented very well. In fact, Thinking back I cant recall any segment which represented Canada at all. It all seemed so random and uninspired.

I think had the ceremonies been directed by a Canadian, it would be a totally different story.

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Id rather they tell the history of Canada, from the east to the west. I think that would have worked better.

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Id rather they tell the history of Canada, from the east to the west. I think that would have worked better.

Isn't that exactly what they did?

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Whenever a language has some kind of authoritative bunch of bureaucratic types trying to lay down the law on what is acceptable and what isn't then it's an indication of how inflexible its practitioners are.

Language is not something you legislate or dictate...sounds like too many Quebecers still resent being beaten on the Plains of Abraham.

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Although I agree had the narrations been in both French and English it would have been too long, I did feel as though the country as a hole was not represented very well. In fact, Thinking back I cant recall any segment which represented Canada at all. It all seemed so random and uninspired.

Id rather they tell the history of Canada, from the east to the west. I think that would have worked better.

It's a big country with many various cultures: it would be impossible to represent everyone. What British Columbians might think defines Canada might be disagreed upon by people in Quebec and the Maritimes. What Albertans think defines Canada might be disagreed upon by other provinces. Etc. It's a unique country, it's more provincial than national.

And they did tell the history of Canada, from east to the west, in another way. Not the traditional settler to modernity type of thing, but they did it in another way. Had they done what you're suggesting, we would've literally had a winter carbon copy of the Sydney 2000 Opening Ceremony.

Anyhow, John Furlong tells off the language fascists....there are also some bombshell revelations about the Opening Ceremony:

- Celine Dion had been contracted to sing the national anthem at the Opening Ceremony. But she cancelled when she became pregnant.

- Vanoc had also specifically asked Cirque du Soleil, the Quebec troupe known for their spectacular airborne artistry, to provide some production elements. The company declined because it was overextended on several productions in the U.S.

- Furlong said Vanoc had also engaged "a famous Quebec composer" to provide musical elements. That composer, whom he would not name, backed out of the arrangement months before the Games over what he termed "philosophical differences". As a result, the artist refused to allow Vanoc access to his music's rights and the organizing committee had to unwind part of the ceremony.

Vanoc boss fires back over French language criticism

By JEFF LEE, Vancouver Sun December 15, 2010 5:02 PM

VANCOUVER -- The head of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Winter Games struck back Wednesday at criticism by the Official Languages Commissioner that the Games missed an opportunity to celebrate Canada's linguistic duality.

John Furlong said his organization worked from top to bottom to make sure the organization of the Olympics and Paralympics included equal representation of both English and French.

He said Graham Fraser's receipt of complaints about a perceived lack of French language in the opening ceremony pales to the overwhelming support Vanoc received from the public at large.

"I understand that Mr. Fraser said he had had 38 complaints. Well, to be honest, I have 10,000 letters of thanks and congratulations for the way we delivered the Olympic Games and a lot of it had to do with this very thing (the opening ceremony), " Furlong said.

On Tuesday Fraser issued his final report into French language inclusion in the Games, saying portions of the event suffered from "linguistic shortfalls."

Furlong said he was unhappy that Fraser didn't bother to alert him in advance this week when releasing his report. "I wasn't expecting the report. I'm responsible for the Olympics. He never made a call to me, he didn't tell me what his findings were," Furlong said. "So when I read that he says we didn't understand what our mandate was, I am sorry, that just is not reasonable."

In an interview from Ottawa Fraser said later that Furlong was well aware of his concerns about the lack of French in the opening ceremony and that his report simply repeated those concerns. He also noted that he received no acknowledgment from Furlong to a hand-written note he sent in October, 2009 complaining that not a word of French was spoken at the ceremony marking the arrival of the Olympic Flame in Victoria. ("ANY FRENCH SPEAKERS IN THE CROWD? RAISE YOUR HAND!)

Fraser said he eventually concluded that Vanoc saw the Official Language Commissioner's office as being troublesome. (it most certainly is!)

"We felt our studies were being viewed not as helpful but as an irritation," the commissioner said.

Fraser said he commended Vanoc for exceeding expectations in all other areas. But the lack of enough French language in the opening ceremony "cast a shadow" over the rest of the organization's efforts.

Furlong said Vanoc fully respected the country's bilingual character and that the opening ceremony included a high proportion of images celebrating Canada's French heritage.

"We never saw it so much in terms of expressing ourselves so much in words, but it was the celebration of the duality of Canada, which was culture, art, performers, music. It was exactly how we put the program together. It shouldn't be lost on anybody that the first province we signed up as a partner was Quebec," he said.

"To hook out one piece and say that piece wasn't good enough is like saying the first quarter of the hockey game wasn't all that good even though we won in overtime."

In the end, Furlong said he thought Fraser's office "cherry-picked" elements and was simply "counting words" rather than looking at Vanoc's complete inclusion of French Canada in its operations.

Furlong also revealed Vanoc had planned to include even more French-Canadian elements but ran into trouble. Celine Dion had been contracted to sing the national anthem but cancelled after she became pregnant. Vanoc had also specifically asked Cirque du Soleil, the Quebec troupe known for their spectacular airborne artistry, to provide some production elements. The company declined because it was overextended on several productions in the U.S.

Furlong said Vanoc had also engaged "a famous Quebec composer" to provide musical elements. That composer, whom he would not name, backed out of the arrangement months before the Games over what he termed "philosophical differences". As a result, the artist refused to allow Vanoc access to his music's rights and the organizing committee had to unwind part of the ceremony.

"We are required under the way the music is assembled once you've got the show together you have to get permission. If he didn't want his music included, that was his decision and we had to move on," Furlong said.

jefflee@vancouversun.com

Twitter.com/sunciviclee

Blog: www.vancouversun.com/jefflee

© Copyright © The Vancouver Sun

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Vanoc+boss+fires+back+over+French+language+criticism/3983885/story.html#ixzz18Egaxkgj

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- Furlong said Vanoc had also engaged "a famous Quebec composer" to provide musical elements. That composer, whom he would not name, backed out of the arrangement months before the Games over what he termed "philosophical differences". As a result, the artist refused to allow Vanoc access to his music's rights and the organizing committee had to unwind part of the ceremony.

Sounds like they had planned a much more amazing Opening Ceremony.

I can't help but think if it was the finale segment of the Opening Ceremony's cultural show that got cut out, which we all know consisted of a five-minute slam poet going off how great Canada was. That slam poetry could very well have been a last minute addition. It kind of makes sense now.

I also wonder if the Closing Ceremony's roast speeches were also a replacement for a canceled performance segment with music by this Quebec composer.

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I didn't really see how they told Canadas history, I guess maybe how the history would look if you were on acid or something (space people going into the arctic tundra I guess Atkins way of representing European settlers?)

Then there were the parts which were both dull and from what I could tell didn't really represent anything (people dancing under the big tree, the anarchist Celtic people which I suppose was meant to represent Atlantic Canada but did so very very poorly)

I could tell some of it was obviously planned last minute (the horrible slam poet, the dull boring as hell odd looking boy flying over a weird looking prairie) Had what Furlong said was supposed to happen taken place, id imagine the ceremony would have been one of the best in Olympic History.

But whats done is done :)

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I didn't really see how they told Canadas history, I guess maybe how the history would look if you were on acid or something (space people going into the arctic tundra I guess Atkins way of representing European settlers?)

Then there were the parts which were both dull and from what I could tell didn't really represent anything (people dancing under the big tree, the anarchist Celtic people which I suppose was meant to represent Atlantic Canada but did so very very poorly)

I could tell some of it was obviously planned last minute (the horrible slam poet, the dull boring as hell odd looking boy flying over a weird looking prairie) Had what Furlong said was supposed to happen taken place, id imagine the ceremony would have been one of the best in Olympic History.

But whats done is done :)

The problem at hand is that you simply don't understand the concept of the Opening as a "Landscape of a Dream," from the very beginning with a snowboarder riding down into the stadium to the formation of the Rocky Mountains.

It's almost as if you completely ignored Donald Sutherland's narration.

You're the type that clearly likes their big, bang, booms....the kind that hates romantic/slow non-action movies but loves Transformers or 2012. It was a purely artistic ceremony that required the appreciation of beauty.

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I don't hate non-action, what I would have liked to see is a mix of both. Tap into what everyone wants to see. Yes I would have loved to see some more action/climactic parts, and can you honestly say you wouldn't have?

Edited by cormiermax

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the dull boring as hell odd looking boy flying over a weird looking prairie

:rolleyes: I feel really sorry for you that you didn't catch the beauty and philosophical meaning of that segment at all. And that you obviously weren't even touched by Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now". Frankly, you must have a heart of stone.

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But to be fair, all announcements, speeches, and narration should have been in both English and French, or at least some subtitling on projection screens.

To be really fair: All PA announcements at Vancouver's opening and closing ceremonies were made also in French. Additionally, the speeches of both John Furlong and Jacques Rogge contained large French parts. And sorry, you just can't read a whole speech in English and then again in French. It would not only take lots of time, but also bore all viewers to death to hear the same complete speech one more time in another language.

Furthermore, if I've seen it correctly on my TV screen, there were subtitles on the projection screens in BC Place during the ceremonies. And if I recall it correctly, I saw also French translations there. Maybe someone who witnessed the ceremonies live at BC Place could clear that up.

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It's Vancouver 2010, not Quebec 2010, get over with <_< . They already hosted an olympics (which were a disaster btw, i'm sorry but thats the sad truth)

They used french language in both opening and closing ceremonies, as well for the anthems. And if i remember right Quebec was shown on the closing ceremony (although on a fun way, just like the rest of the CC)

Jeez, these are the same guys who were butthurt and weeping back in Calgary 1988 because of the same thing.

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:rolleyes: I feel really sorry for you that you didn't catch the beauty and philosophical meaning of that segment at all. And that you obviously weren't even touched by Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now". Frankly, you must have a heart of stone.

I found it awkward how the screen looked, not really sure how to describe it but if you go back and watch you'll see what I mean. I also thought it was far too long. Maybe I'm being overly critical because its Canadian but that's just how I saw it.

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I found it awkward how the screen looked, not really sure how to describe it but if you go back and watch you'll see what I mean. I also thought it was far too long. Maybe I'm being overly critical because its Canadian but that's just how I saw it.

I've watched the segment many times but I don't really know what you mean. Is it that the wheat fields were only uncovered patch by patch, whenever the boy stepped on the field? Do you mean the different graphical effects whenever he did that? OK, some of those effects looked like when you switch from one chart to the next in a PowerPoint presentation but that didn't bother me much. The philosophical, thoughtful aspect was what counted for me. And I didn't consider it too long. I was glad that they played the full "Both Sides Now" song, since it has a beautiful melody and narrative and would have been lifeless if they had cut it short. And when you play the full song, it's obvious that the whole segment has to take the same time as the song.

No, I was perfectly happy with that segment and with many other segments of the opening ceremony, too. Even if I repeat myself: You Canadians shouldn't be so critical about what you did and displayed at the Vancouver Games and, for example, the opening ceremony. I know that many foreign watchers enjoyed what they saw and probably got the same warm feeling of your country as I did. I admit that I wasn't so happy with the opening ceremony immediately after its live broadcast -- but that was obviously mostly due to the cauldron glitch. Later, when I rewatched it, I thought that it was actually a very emotional, warm and genuine opening ceremony where the few glitches became pretty unimportant in retrospective.

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I think I'm just being overly critical, and letting every little thing that bugged me overshadow the good. There were some parts which I really enjoyed (the whales, the first snow space people segment, surprisingly the native segment which I thought was very well done after re-watching it a few times)

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I didn't really see how they told Canadas history, I guess maybe how the history would look if you were on acid or something (space people going into the arctic tundra I guess Atkins way of representing European settlers?)

Then there were the parts which were both dull and from what I could tell didn't really represent anything (people dancing under the big tree, the anarchist Celtic people which I suppose was meant to represent Atlantic Canada but did so very very poorly)

I could tell some of it was obviously planned last minute (the horrible slam poet, the dull boring as hell odd looking boy flying over a weird looking prairie) Had what Furlong said was supposed to happen taken place, id imagine the ceremony would have been one of the best in Olympic History.

But whats done is done :)

I totally disagree with your slaughtering of the OC. I am not Canadian ( as some ppl on this board tend to believe) but I got to understand what it is - especially the stunnning, absolutely stunning segment of the boy flying over wheatfields. I had no idea of the stupendous vastness and beauty o fyour country until for some reason, I noticed this acrobat flying true the air to the most amazing music and then landing perfectly on a field of wheat. Never before has a solo performace of that scale been attempted in an opening ceremony. I couldn't understand the part with the dancers tap dancing but the setting was beautiful.

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