On February 12th 2010, the XXV Winter Olympics and the Winter Paralympics will commence in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Amid the flags and pageantry, guests and fans of the winter sports will be entertained by Miga, Sumi, and Quatchi. Who are these creatures you ask? They are the mascots of the Vancouver Games!
HISTORY OF OLYMPIC MASCOTS
Since the 1968 Winter Olympics, the official games have had a mascot. The mascot generally represents an animal native to the hosting country or a well known cultural figure. The mascot serves as an ambassador that conveys the spirit of the games and their home city, especially to young children. In the past, mascots were Misha (brown bear from Moscow), Sam (the bald eagle from the United States), and Hodori (a tiger from Korea.)
CANADA’S PAST CHOICES
As past host of the Olympic Games, Canada has offered mascots in the past. In the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada, there was Amik, a beaver. Amik represented the spirit of hard work which is crucial for athletes to gain the stature of being Olympic champions.
In 1988, for the Winter Olympics in Calgary, the world met Hidy and Howdy, polar bear siblings, whose names expressed feelings of brotherhood and welcome. Both are very important parts of the Olympic spirit.
2010 VANCOUVER MASCOTS- MYTHS AND LEGENDS
Miga is an adorable sea bear who lives in the ocean with her family pod near Tofino, off the coast of British Vancouver. She loves snowboarding. According to First Nations’ legends, a sea bear part killer whale and part bear. The myth, Gonakadet, is one of the known tales of the sea bear. Miga is a combination of killer whale and Kermode bear.
Killer Whales are the largest members of the dolphin family. They have been called by names such as Orca, Blackfish and Wolves of the Sea. They travel in family groups and depending on the type will eat seals, fish, and sharks.
The Kermode, also called spirit bears, are rare white bears that can only be found in British Columbia. They are not polar bears, but belong to the family of Black Bear Family. And, because of their unique and ghost-like appearance, there are prominent in Canadian First Nations and Native American mythology.
Sumi is a mixture of the thunderbird, orca, and black bear and serves as the mascot of the Paralympics. Sumi lives in the mountains of British Columbia. Sumi wears a hat of an orca, wings of the Thunderbird, and has furry legs like a black bear. He wishes to learn all the sports of the Games.
According to First Nations’ legends, Thunderbirds are powerful and intelligent creatures. Like Sumi, they are also powerful protectors of the land, waters and creatures of their homeland. Their name comes from the sound that is heard when their wings beat. Their images are craved in the local totem of British Columbia.
Quatchi is a Sasquatch, the mysterious creature that roams the Canadian forests. Quatchi is shy, but eager to make new friends. Quatchi loves ice hockey and has a dream if being a great goalie.
The Sasquatch, sometimes called Yeti and Bigfoot, is a large hairy creature, that has inspired everything from comic book heroes to Hollywood movies. According to legend, Sasquatch are nocturnal creatures.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MASCOTS
The three Vancouver Games mascots represent the unique and beautiful history, regions and culture of British Columbia. The rugged mountains, streaming coast and great forests are where they each live and each creature represents the protective and powerful legends of First Nations’ people. Who will take an active role in this 2010 Winter Olympiad.
The First Nations’ people of British Columbia have maintained their rich and diverse culture and welcome the world to experience it in these games and beyond. If you are fortunate enough to travel to Canada for the XXV Olympiad, you will get to experience the spirit of the Games and the spirits of Miga, Sumi and Quatchi.
For more about the Olympiad’s mascots, past or present, check out the following websites: