Both times I’ve revisted Vancouver since living here, I’ve come with slight anxiety that it’ll fall short of the utopian ideal I have built up of it in my mind. Yet each time, it somehow manages to enchant me more and never so much as it has tonight.
I’ve already had a few emails from home about the riots that broke out downtown last night following the Canucks loss in the Stanley Cup finals (yes, that’s ice hockey as previously discussed in an earlier post). I was downtown for the game but made a quick getaway before things got too out of hand.
Fires were started, clashes with Police, windows smashed – most notably at The Bay, the major department store surrounded on three sides by full display windows, almost all of which were broken in the riots. Of course, this kind of sports related hooliganism isn’t a phenomenon unique to Vancouver, what followed is…
This evening I made plans to meet my friend Sheliza downtown. I came out of the SkyTrain station, up through The Bay and as I headed towards the exit, I saw the windows were boarded up and felt a little pang of disappointed in my utopia. Then I pushed through the doors to see a sight that not only restored my faith in Vancouver, but in the best of humanity – the entire store front is clad on three sides by panels where the windows were. These panels are absolutely covered in good will messages – everything from expressions of gratitude to the clean up volunteers, to support for the Canucks, to affirmations of love for this incomparable city.
The atmosphere was electric with good will, there were even free huggers! I of course indulged because I just had to share the love.
Sheliza and I went about our plans, passing similarly replaced windows here and there which showed the truest beauty of this place more than the clearest pane at top of the Lookout Tower. On our way back towards the same spot at the end of the evening, we saw a calm crowd gathered so went to take a peek. At the centre of the circle was a Police car plastered in post-it notes with expressions of gratitude. Whatever anger was ignited in last nights mobs was well and truly quelled by todays extraordinary show of dignity, peace and serenity.
I could go on with my love letter to Vancouver but with two days to go, it would be too heartbreaking. For now, I’ll let the pictures speak what my thousand words could never so eloquently express.