First, let’s meet Mukmuk in this cartoon.
So who is Mukmuk? Well, according to his “Sidekick Profile”…
Mukmuk is a small and friendly Vancouver Island marmot who always supports and cheers loudly for his friends during games and races. When he is not hibernating or sunbathing on rocks and logs, he enjoys getting out to meet other types of marmots and animals. In fact, this is how he became freinds with the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic mascots.
Mukmuk gets his name from “muckamuck,” Chinook jargon for “food,” because he loves to eat! (Interestingly, Chinook jargon was a First Nations trading language.) He’s passionate about the many different types of food found in British Columbia, and is particularly fond of berries and mountain flowers.
The Vancouver Island marmot is an extremely rare and endangered species unique to the mountains of Vancouver Island.
Home: Vancouver Island sub-alpine meadows
Hobbies: Eating, burrowing, eating, making friends, eating
Favourite food: Flowers, fern, berries
Dream: To tell the world about his fellow island marmots
Favorite colour: Berry orange
Yeah, he’s a mere sidekick to mascots Quatchi, Miga and Sumi. He doesn’t get the full mascot treatment, and there’s less Mukmuk merchandise in the Olympic store compared with the other guys. And even more tragic, there isn’t a full-size costumed Mukmuk at live appearances! This prompted Jeff Lee at the Vancouver Sun to launch a “Free Mukmuk” campaign here and here. Local school kids in Vancouver joined the movement, sending in their pro-Mukmuk artwork.
This is especially tragic considering the fact that Whistler, where outdoor Olympic events like skiing and snowboarding will take place, was actually named after marmots: according to Wikipedia, “the area informally acquired the name ‘whistler’ due to the call of the indigenous hoary marmot.“
Despite his second-class citizenship, Mukmuk is the star of Operation Recycle, a curling game where you help Mukmuk shoot newspapers, mixed paper, plastic containers, glass bottles and recyclable batteries across a frozen pond.
As the curlers like to say, “Nice rock, Mukmuk!”