Reflection on a dark day

  • Jun. 22, 2011 3:20 p.m.

Even though the mess left behind in downtown Vancouver after last week’s riots has been pretty much cleaned up, Canadians are still talking about the disgraceful display that happened after the Stanley Cup final.

Certainly, the Vancouver Canucks losing the play-off series was not at the top of the news. A bunch of hooligans and criminals overshadowed the game by a long shot. Thousands had gathered to watch the game on outdoor screens and virtually the second the game ended, the riots were sparked. Cars were torched, business windows were smashed, stores were looted and fights broke out everywhere.

It was hard to believe that such reckless, destructive behaviour was happening in one of Canada’s most attractive and world-class cities.

It was a scene we are sadly used to watching unfold in various countries overseas where riots are almost routine.

It was also awful to see the news splashed around the world – international broadcasters detailing the unimaginable events to their viewers. Absolutely humiliating and embarrassing for Canadians in general and Vancouverites in particular.

Just over one year ago, Vancouver was highlighted for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. It was a spectacular event, and although there were a few minor glitches, by the end of it the world had fallen in love with the city. It also was great for Canada’s image as well. This has now been severely tarnished, as many Canadians hang their heads in shame over the outrageous actions of just a few.

It’s also tough to restore a positive image – consider the 1994 riots in Vancouver after the Canucks’ loss to the New York Rangers. This happened 17 years ago – almost to the day – as last week’s spectacle.

This is not the Canada we know, and it’s disappointing to say the least that these images are out there forever thanks to modern social media. On the flip side, the criminals also have their photos plastered all over the Internet and news sites, and will hopefully be caught and face the consequences.

After all was said and done, it was heartening to see volunteers hit the streets the next morning and get to work cleaning up the mess left behind. This is the Canadian spirit that we love and cherish – people banding together to work for a common cause that helps everyone.