June, 2011

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An Open Letter to Boston

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

 

Found at the Georgia and Granville corner of The Bay

I am Sorry

IT’S NOT WHETHER YOU WIN OR LOSE: IT’S HOW YOU PLAY THE GAME.

The hours following game seven of the Stanley Cup final in Vancouver were sad ones to say the least.

As a bystander- quite honestly, professional sports leave me a bit cold- I went down to Georgia Street adjacent to the Rogers Arena to watch the people, some 100,000 of them, there to watch the game on massive TV screens erected in the middle of the street. It started out to be simply lots of people having a good time on one of the city’s first pleasant, warm, and dry evenings of the year.

I am sorry to say this but win or lose, the anarchy came as no surprise. Despite the almost-bucolic reputation we have here in the Pacific Northwest, sadly there are a few among us who are bound and determined to destroy what good can come out of community spirit and we have seen it here all too often in the past.

By contrast, the 2010 Winter Olympics were a success from a community-building standpoint here in fair VanCity and so some no doubt were hoping, maybe even pretending, that this rogue bunch would simply stay home this time too.

Alas, that was not to be.

And so, instead of celebrating sport, and celebrating a really exciting play-off series between to very closely matched teams and covering your own beloved Bruins and their fans celebrating their win, CNN had to go live to cover the anarchists, the idiots, the jerks, the looters, the drunken losers, and the fifteen-seconds-of-fame seekers (none of them rioters, really), who wreaked meaningless and wonton destruction here, as cars burned and riot police did what they could in the presence of thousands of YouTube and Facebook posting cell phones. It brought shame upon our city and dishonour to our team.

Where they come from I cannot say. But for all of us who live in the Lower Mainland- what we call the region that surrounds and includes the city of Vancouver- we must own this sad fact: these louts come from our communities: they are our relatives, our friends, our neighbours, our classmates and work colleagues- they are known personally by others who do not share their shameful behaviour. These losers represent no-one but themselves and in doing so they do nobody proud.

I honestly hope that those who do recognize them report them to the police so that they may have their day in court. Looking to the future, how we stop this aberrant behaviour before it starts is a gargantuan task- one that starts with education certainly- and is a task that me must pursue.

But that discussion is for another time. And what happened last night, was last night.

Cleaning up the smoke damage at The Bay from cars that had been set on fire.

Canucks fans clean smoke damage from The Bay

Today, I am happy to report, Vancouver is righting its ship. True fans and real citizens came out in the hundreds, maybe even the thousands, to clean up after these losers. It is their actions, their outlook that speaks for this little corner of God’s Green Earth. Their words too, as you can see in the photos I include.

Written on the plywood boards erected to cover the broken windows of several stores, including the Hudson’s Bay Company, Sears, the Future Shop and Chapters (our version of Barnes and Noble), were thousands of notes illuminating the enduring positive spirit that cuts through darkness. There is expressed love of the Canucks, love of this city, appreciation of the Vancouver Police and Fire Departments, and those who were volunteering to clean up. Other notes condemn the actions of those few, while still others plead with the world to see past this embarrassing episode.

But it was one particular note I read, written on the plywood window cover on ‘The Bay’ at the corner of Georgia and Granville Streets that inspired me to write this letter to the Boston Globe. It is the first one in the series of photos I am sending to you.

It is important for Bostonians to know that what they saw on CNN last night, instead of their Bruins celebrating their win, was not the real Vancouver- and that the sentiments written on these boards that would otherwise be seen only in Vancouver, are shared with those who were equally affected by the shameful acts of a despicable few.

The message that inspired me to write this, reads:

I am sorry to you Boston. This should be your time to party and cheer but the world is on Vancouver for the hooligans who did this. Love you all. To hockey fans, God bless you. Boston, good job Boston. We are sorry. – Barnett McIntyre

Signing the Board

Signing the Board

As these boards filled with signatures underscore, Vancouver is a city fuelled by passion- young, brash, and unbridled- not just for the city itself but for its sports teams.

Both passions were disgraced last night and so in the spirit of reconciliation- and I hope I speak for all Vancouverites when I write this to all Bostonians- it is our hope that good can come of this; that those who came out to condemn and clean up after the actions of a pathetic few can translate this spirit into something positive and long-lasting…

… so that next year, should the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks play in the Stanley Cup playoff finals again, the end result will be a celebration of sport: no matter who wins the cup.

Congratulations on your win, Boston Bruins. You are this year’s champions of the National Hockey League.

Now let’s celebrate what was a successful season for both our teams.