Macleans magazine reports on the following dispute surrounding what I have dubbed “Mascot Mayhem”:
For a full year, controversy has been raging in Vancouver over a Vanoc oversight: Unlike “official” 2010 mascots Quatchi, Miga and Sumi, Mukmuk the marmot was designated a “sidekick.” No Mukmuk plush toys, pins or t-shirts would grace the shelves of Hudson’s Bay, said Vanoc, ensuring that B.C. schoolchildren would never learn his name. But Mukmuk, a Vancouver Island marmot, is a real B.C. animal, unlike Quatchi, Miga and Sumi—a sasquatch, “sea-bear” and “animal guardian-spirit” respectively—residents, columnists and bloggers and bloggers and bloggers complained. (And he wears a bright orange toque, just like a real Vancouver Island redneck.)
So far, Mukmuk—the only mascot with a Facebook fan group—has made only cameo appearances: once appearing in a Vanoc video handing out Vancouver 2010 invitations to hot-chocolate drinking headliners, Quatchi, Miga and Sumi, another time, cheering-on their antics from the sidelines.
No more. Mukmuk merch has hit the shelves of the Bay. Mukmuk, though an “official product,” will retain his “sidekick” status—forever an outsider.
Sumi is an animal spirit who lives in the mountains of British Columbia. Like many Canadians, Sumi’s background is drawn from many places. He wears the hat of the orca whale, flies with the wings of the mighty thunderbird and runs on the strong furry legs of the black bear. Sumi’s name comes from the Salish word “Sumesh” which means “guardian spirit.” Sumi takes his role very seriously. He works hard to protect the land, water and creatures of his homeland. Sumi is a great fan of the Paralympic Games. He’s determined to learn all the sports, so he can play and race with his animal friends all winter long.
Transformation is a common theme in the art and legend of West Coast First Nations. Transformation represents the connection and kinship between the human, animal and spirit world. Revered animals, such as the orca whale, the bear and the thunderbird, are depicted in transformation through masks, totems and other forms of art. The orca is the traveller and guardian of the sea. The bear often represents strength and friendship. And the thunderbird — which creates thunder by flapping its wings — is one of the most powerful of the supernatural creatures.
Quatchi is a young sasquatch who comes from the mysterious forests of Canada. Quatchi is shy, but loves to explore new places and meet new friends. Although Quatchi loves all winter sports, he’s especially fond of hockey. He dreams of becoming a world-famous goalie. Because of his large size, he can be a little clumsy. But no one can question his passion. He knows that if he works hard and always does his best, he might one day achieve his dream. Quatchi is always encouraging his friends to join him on journeys across Canada. He is also often recruiting others to play hockey – or at least to take shots at him!
The sasquatch is a popular figure in local native legends of the Pacific West Coast. The sasquatch reminds us of the mystery and wonder that exist in the natural world, igniting our imagination about the possibility of undiscovered creatures in the great Canadian wilderness.Miga is a young sea bear who lives in the ocean with her family pod, beyond Vancouver Island, near Tofino, British Columbia. Sea bears are part killer whale and part bear. (Miga is part Kermode bear, a rare white bear that only lives in British Columbia.) All summer long, Miga rides waves with local surfers. But during the winter months, she often sneaks onto the shores of Vancouver to seek adventure. When Miga discovered that humans were ‘surfing’ on snow, up in the mountains, she knew she had to join the fun. Snowboarding soon became her favourite winter sport. Her dream is to land a corked 720 in the half-pipe one day…It will take lots of practice, and a few falls along the way, but she’s sure she can do it.
The sea bear is inspired by the legends of the Pacific Northwest First Nations, tales of orca whales that transform into bears when they arrive on land. The Kermode bear is a rare white or cream-coloured sub-species of the black bear that is unique to the central West Coast of British Columbia. According to First Nations’ legend, Kermode bears – also known as Spirit Bears – were turned white by Raven to remind people of the Ice Age. Orcas are also honoured in the art and stories of West Coast First Nations, as travellers and guardians of the sea.
So there you have it. The mascots of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.