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To mark the 1-year anniversary of the 2010 Games, the Olympic cauldron is being relit

It’s already been a year since the entire world’s eyes focused on BC during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games

To mark the occasion, the province has created a new arts legacy fund to support a multi-community series of festivals — BC Spirit Festivals.

"The 2010 Olympics gave Vancouver and Canada a big boost, and provided a reason to come together and celebrate," says Rob VanWynsberghe, research lead for the UBC Olympic Games Impact Study (OGI). "Real legacies take a long time to develop,” he adds.

Facilities and Athletic Achievements Part of the Winter Games’ Legacies

The beginnings of our lasting legacies from the Games are visible in the new facilities around the Lower Mainland — from Hillcrest Community Centre to the Richmond Oval to the Athletes Village on False Creek, and in Whistler.

The Winter Games highlighted Vancouver, Cypress Mountain (sans snow) and Whistler, and we have many new amenities to take pride in and to support future athletes.

Medal ceremony in Whistler 2010 Olympics
IMAGE: Vivianne Forest and guide Lindsay Debou at the medal ceremony in Whistler after taking bronze for the visually impared giant slalom at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games. They also won three silver medals and one gold. (Credit: Ariane Colenbrander)

The legacy also extends to athletic achievement. Prior to Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympics, Canada had not seen a gold medal win on Canadian soil.

Montreal hosted the Summer Olympics in 1976 and Calgary in winter of 1988. Both were incredible events in their own right yet neither had resulted in a gold medal for a Canadian athlete. Leading up to the Olympics, CTV — the official television sponsor — was abuzz with pressure for the athletes to achieve gold on “home soil.”

When Alexandre Bilodeau won gold for his ski jumping, and dedicated it to his older brother, Frederick who has cerebral palsy, everyone went nuts.

"The kid had taken a pretty significant monkey off the country’s back," Furlong admits honestly in his memoir Patriot Hearts: Inside the Olympics that Changed a Country, "and was getting the recognition he deserved for the honour… Displays of patriotism were breaking out all over the place. Delighted fans were soaking it up.”

Olympic medal at the Royal Canadian Mint House
IMAGE: Gold medal on display at the Royal Canadian Mint Pavillion during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games. (Credit: Ariane Colenbrander)

Lasting Memories from the Winter Games

Although the Vancouver Winter Olympics were not without their criticism, there were some things the Vancouver Olympic organizing committee could not have prepared themselves for, such as the unfortunate death of Georgian luger Nodor Kumaritashvili, who was thrown from the track during a practice run.

Olympic torch bearer runs through Kitsilano in Vancouver

"We had confronted make-believe plane crashes, riots, major injuries, mustard gas—you name it and we had prepared for it,” Furlong wrote. “But never in our wildest dreams did we imagine the death of an athlete on opening day."

Even with the heavy burden of Nodor’s death, the spirit, pride, and patriotism of Canadians was undeniable during February 2010. Excited people dressed in red, danced in the streets, hoot and hollered over missed goals and medals won, and decorated everything with our iconic red maple leaf.

IMAGE: The torch relay heads through Kitsilano in Vancouver. (Credit: Lisa Manfield)

Laura Moss, chair of UBC’s Canadian Studies describes the lasting memories of Canadians “coming together on an unprecedented scale, expressing their patriotism loudly and confidently.

"During the Games, the world witnessed a nation that differed from our stereotypes, but in many ways this was simply their perception of Canada catching up to our own."

Arun Mohan is part of the UBC Olympic Studies Research Team, worked for CTV and even volunteered at the Winter Games. “Whenever I think back to February 2010, when the eyes of our country and world were transfixed on our city, I am filled with pride for playing a small part in helping stage a successful Winter Olympics in Vancouver," says Mohan.

"The atmosphere was electric, and it was really exciting to be in the middle of the action."

Spirit Festivals Across the Province to Recapture the Olympic Vibe

Now, one year later, the Province of BC is funding Spirit Festivals to recapture the excitement and the atmosphere, and renew the pride British Columbians experienced during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Excited Hockey Fan during Vancouver 2010 Olympics
IMAGE: Really big fan at the Gold medal sledge hockey game. (Credit: Ariane Colenbrander)

The BC Spirit Festivals, taking place in 49 communities, aim to bring together artists, cultural organizations, creative industries and local citizens with various activities including visual arts exhibitions, public museum programs, publications, media arts, dance, music and theatre productions.

Some BC Spirit Festival Highlights

Here are some of the Spirit Festivals happening around BC. With nearly 50 events, there is sure to be someting in (or near) your community. See a full list of BC Spirit Festivals here.

Abbotsford (February 18-20)
The Métis Cultural Festival embraces the history of the Métis people with display booths, heritage artefacts and a Veterans Flag Procession. Music is also essential to Métis culture – and the festival will include musicians and jiggers (dancers) – plus carving, traditional clothing and contemporary Métis art for sale.

Denman Island (February 17-20
The Secret Tree Festival of Arts & Sustainability holds festive delights for the whole community. Artists from on and off-island will share ideas about environmental sustainability through music, visual art, storytelling and film.

Burnaby (February 20)
Cultural Blast: An Arts Explosion Festival is a one-day celebration at Deer Lake Park. Experience arts and culture suitable for all ages at four locations: the Burnaby Village Museum, Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, Burnaby Art Gallery and Burnaby Arts Council.

Richmond (February 1 – March 15)
The Richmond Winter Festival of the Arts comes alive from February 1 to March 15 including Winterfest Weekend on February 12-13. The Winter Festival includes drumming, lion dancers, youth hip hop, storytelling, classical Indian dance, painting, ceramics, fibre arts, photography, a marimba band and a film festival.

Vectoral Elevation Light during Olympics 2010 Vancouver
IMAGE: Vectoral Elevation light installation, part of the Cultural Olympiad during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. (Credit: Doug Farmer)

Vancouver (February 1-28)
With more than 25 events hosted by non-profit organizations and the city, Vancouver has non-stop festivals in February. Newcomers such as Winterruption on Granville Island, celebrating its 3rd year, join established festivals such as PuSh International Performing Arts Festival now in its 9th year. Other highlights include the LunarFest in honour of Asian New Years festivals, The Talking Stick Festival celebrating aboriginal culture, and SlaMFete in honour of Black History Month. See a list of Spirit Festivals in Vancouver.

Duncan (February 4-26)
The Cowichan valley community is bringing the Story of Tth'uw'xe'luts'-The Wild Woman and other Coast Salish stories to life through the Living Legends celebration. Learn to carve, enjoy a meal and share a story. Attend a carving workshop led by carver Edgar Rice or a story night with Cowichan storytellers, traditional and contemporary tales, and drummer John George. The carvings of The Wild Woman -Tth'uw'xe'luts, and Kwukmitsiin, along with the carvings from the community, will be unveiled at the Cowichan International Aboriginal Festival of Film & Art in April 2011.

Hope (February 12-26)
Using art to appreciate the diversity of backgrounds that contribute to the community, Hope celebrates Rural Diversity: Community Engagement for the Fraser Cascade Area. This first-ever festival event, organized by the Trails Crossing Friendship Centre, will be open to spiritual, cultural, ethnic and faith art forms and representations with an artist forum, cultural food event, and art competition.

Coquitlam (February 25-27)
The Water’s Edge Festival showcases local artists and main stage highlights include Dee Daniels, PechaKuchaNight Coquitlam and the Kelowna Ballet. The Water’s Edge Festival is an edgy multi-media celebration.

Surrey (February 26)
The City of Surrey’s Winterfest is a free family event celebrating the Winter Games and the talents of local artists. The Surrey Celebration Dance Team, Surrey Orchestra and Circus Skills Youth Mentorship Program will offer feature performances as well as Peak Performance artist Kyprios and Hot Hot Heat.

Surrey 2010 Celebration Site during Winter Games
IMAGE: Dan Mangan performs at the Surrey 2010 Celebration Site in Holland Park during the Winter Games. (Credit: Monica Miller)

Victoria (February 1-28)
More than a dozen arts and culture groups are organizing events in Victoria including the Art Gallery, Ballet Victoria, Victoria Symphony, Pacific Opera, Victoria Jazz Society and the Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival. Some highlights include the Canadian College of Performing Arts’ Festival of New Works 2011 celebrating first-time writers, Dance Days by the Dance Victoria Society and the Independent Media Producers Network Society celebrating their 30th anniversary. See a full list of Spirit Festivals in Victoria.

Bowen Island (February 4-27)
The Spirit of Bowen Island Festival will revive the thrill of the Winter Games, including that special moment when the Olympic torch came ashore. Festival activities include World in Colour Art Exhibit, Raven Tales on Bowen, the 5th Annual Winterfest and the community screening of The Spirit Rises.

Parksville (February 1-28)
The Oceanside Community Arts Council presents mail art in an exhibition and website called Mail Art Olympix. The unique exhibition features mail art from 355 artists in 41 countries compiled by Ed Varney.

Whistler (February 1-28)
The Whistler Winter Arts Festival takes place all month long and Celebrate Live! is a three day celebration (February 11-13) marking the anniversary of the community’s role as host to the 2010 Whistler Celebration Sites. There will be live music, culture, food and drink, street entertainment, snow sculpting, film screenings, as well as literary and visual arts at Millenium Place.

Monica Miller is a writer, reader, editor, designer and crafter. She blogs at Monniblog.com about books, knitting, jewellery and life in general. She lives in Vancouver.