Episode 1 - Noticing the Olympics

March 3, 2018

About the Episode

It’s 2018, and the 23rd Winter Olympics are upon us! Well…they were upon us when we recorded this episode.

The Olympics are a time for countries to come together through sport, and a time for countries to showcase not just their best athletes, but also their unique national identity.  In our first episode, Robin, Nick, and Keely explore the history of the Olympic Games as a tool for nation-building. They’ll also uncover how the national identities promoted by host countries often work to exclude or marginalize different groups – particularly Indigenous peoples.

Canada has hosted the Olympics three times: Montreal in 1976, Calgary in 1988, and Vancouver in 2010. During the opening and closing ceremonies of these Games, Canada was presented as an inclusive, welcoming, and diverse society.  But how successful were the organizing committees in promoting this image?

The Olympics are touted as an important event for fostering international relations, but past Olympics have also been the site of international tensions. The hosts will dive into the notion of athletes as representatives of their countries and will discuss how rivalries between Olympics teams can be a reflection of conflict and hostility between countries.

Join Notice History as we notice the history of the Olympics, as well as the history of Canada on the Olympic world stage.


  1. If Robin has sparked your interest in reading Jennifer Adese’s article “Colluding with the Enemy? Nationalism and Depictions of ‘Aboriginality’ in Canadian Olympic Moments,” you can find it at: Adese, Jennifer. “Colluding with the Enemy? Nationalism and Depictions of “Aboriginality” in Canadian Olympic Moments” American Indian Quarterly Vol. 36, No. 4 (Fall 2012): 479-502. You can find a link at: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/500592/pdf.
  2. Sierra Noble is a Canadian singer-songwriter, and yes… a fiddle player too. If you are interested in learning more about this talented musician, you can visit her website at http://www.sierranoble.ca.


In Nick’s discussion of the historic Canada-Russia hockey rivalry, he mistakenly notes that Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky played in the ’72 Summit Series. What he meant to refer to was the 1987 Canada Cup. Evidently, Nick’s enthusiasm for the subject caused him to misspeak! We apologize for the error.


Adese, Jennifer. “Colluding with the Enemy? Nationalism and Depictions of “Aboriginality” in Canadian Olympic Moments.” American Indian Quarterly, Vol. 36, No. 4 (Fall 2012): 479-502.

Blair, Kelsey. “Hockey Sticks and Heartstrings: The Men’s Gold Medal Hockey Game and the Affective Legacy of the 2010 Olympic Games.” Canadian Theatre Review, Vol. 164 (2015): 83-88.

Devine, Heather. “After the Spirit Sang: First Nations Canadians and Museum Policy in the New Millennium.” How Canadians Communicate III: Context of Canadian Pop Culture, edited by Bart Beaty et al. Edmonton, AB: AU Press (2010): 217-239.

Fabrizio Pelak, Cynthia. “Women’s Collective Identity Formation in Sports: A Case Study for Women’s Ice Hockey.” Gender and Society 16, 1 (Feb 2002): 99-114.

Ng, Gary. “Olympic Opening Ceremonies: A cultural Showcase.” https://www.pyeongchang2018.com/en/blog/Olympic-Opening-Ceremonies-A-Cultural-Showcase.

Larinov, Igor. “The Beautiful Game.” The Players’ Tribune, 23 February 2015. https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/miracle-on-ice-hockey-russia.

Pecoskie, Teri. “Pay to Play: Odds Stacked Against Many Young Hockey Players.” The Hamilton Spectator, 28 October 2018. https://www.thespec.com/news-story/6933956-pay-to-play-odds-stacked-against-many-young-hockey-players/.

Rider, Toby C and Matthew P Llewellyn. “The Five Rings and the “Imagined Community”: Nationalism and the Modern Olympic Games.” The SAIS Review of International Affairs, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Summer-Fall 2015): 21-32

Robidoux, Michael A. “Imagining a Canadian Identity through Sport: A Historical Interpretation of Lacrosse and Hockey” The Journal of American Folklore 115, 456, Folklore in Canada (Spring, 2002): 209-225.

Shulist, Sarah. “Ideologies of Olympic Proportions: The Aboriginal Language Broadcast of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games.” Anthropologica, Vol 54, No 2 (2012): 267-280.

Theberge, Nancy. “‘It’s Part of the Game”: Physicality and the Production of Gender in Women’s Hockey.” Gender and Society, 11, 1 (Feb 1997): 69-87.

Thompson, Christopher. “The Tour in the Interwar Years: Political Ideology, Athletic Excess, and Industrial Modernity.” In The Tour De France, 1903-2003: A Century of Sporting Structures, Meanings and Values, eds. Hugh Dauncey and Geoff Hare, (New York: Routledge, 2003), 87.

Trovato, Frank. “The Stanley Cup of Hockey and Suicide in Quebec, 1951-1992.” Social Forces 77, 1 (Sep., 1998): 105-126.


Producers: Robin Mullins and Emily Cuggy

Hosts: Robin Mullins, Nick Bridges, Keely McCavitt

Researcher: Nick Johnston

Audio Editing: Anna Kuntz and Emily Cuggy

Web Content: Casandra Masse

Image: The Olympic Games: A Marvellous way to foster friendship and understanding between nations… short of wars.  February 24, 1960. Len Norris / Library and Archives Canada / 1988-243 DAP 00128.