by Irvin Muchnick
The discovery of the remains of more than 200 children of First Nations tribes (whom we in the U.S. call Native Americans or Indians) at a British Columbia school site has led to flags flying at half-mast, the United Nations’ call for a full investigation, and redoubled general attention to the inadequacy of the country’s truth and reconciliation commission accounting for centuries of abuse of indigenous populations.
With any justice, this will redirect the spotlight to John Furlong, the Irish-Canadian Olympics official who presided over the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and later wrote a bestselling nationalistic autobiography entitled Patriot Hearts.
For years, Concussion Inc. has been following the reporting of Canadian journalist Laura Robinson for the weekly Georgia Straight, which resulted in Furlong’s aggressive but ultimately abandoned libel litigation against Robinson. Furlong’s book, Robinson established, curiously left out his time as a teacher at a Catholic missionary school in British Columbia, where he was accused of abusing native students.
Also omitted from the timeline of Furlong’s memoirs was his interim return from Canada to his native Ireland, where during the 1970s he overlapped with George Gibney at the athletic department of the Newpark Comprehensive School in Blackrock, County Dublin. Two-time Irish Olympic head swimming coach Gibney, the most notorious at-large sex criminal in sports history, is under investigation for his quarter-century-long resident alien status in the U.S. despite failing in an application for naturalized citizenship after concealing his past indictment in Ireland on massive charges of molestation and rape of underage athletes in his charge.
In late 2016 and early 2017, there were protests against a speaking appearance by Furlong at the University of British Columbia. And disputes continue over the absence of testimony of several of his on-the-record First Nations accusers — plus the general infidelity of the record of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which had been set up in the late 2000s under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.
The commission officially dissolved in late 2015, but the new discovery of secret mass children’s graves at school sites exposes the incompleteness of its work. For those with an interest in the relationship of sports to national scenarios of abuse, reexamination of John Furlong’s Ireland-to-Canada-to-Ireland-to-Canada narrative is crucial.
Comprehensive links to our previous coverage of Furlong are at https://concussioninc.net/?p=11744.