Honouring our heroes
What makes a hero?
Classically it’s a strapping lad with mountains for muscles who valiantly rescues a damsel in distress from the evil lord of evil, or so Walt Disney would have us believe.
Last June heroes were born in downtown Vancouver, heroes of every age, sex and colour, carrying nothing more than brooms, brushes and garbage bags.
For the Vancouver Canucks, pre-season is a time to prepare for the ensuing grind, but Canucks Sports & Entertainment is also using this year’s pre-season as a time to say thank you to the heroes who made a difference following Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
During the first three pre-season home games of the year the Canucks hosted members of the Vancouver Police Department and Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Vancouver Firefighters and Emergency Workers and First responders, including members of the BC Ambulance/Paramedic association, E-Comm 911 and staff from Vancouver General Hospital and St. Paul's Hospital.
Vancouver’s final pre-season game this Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers is reserved to recognize the volunteers who initiated the clean-up efforts in downtown Vancouver the day after the riots.
For this the Canucks gave out tickets to those who participated and made a world of difference; entrants were asked to submit a 100-word blurb and photo of their clean-up efforts to be considered for the tickets.
We received some amazing submissions from people who truly embody the values of courage, integrity, honour, humility and passion, the values needed to demonstrate the Heart of a Canuck.
Hira Gill, Calvin Ng, Aaron Bonogofsky, Anish Dwivedi, Tammy Post, Shannon Alexander and Michael Dharni, all strangers a night prior, are some of the fans who came together to piece Vancouver back together.
Mandeep Hayer was there as well and it was an overwhelming experience for him.
“Having lived in Vancouver all of my life, and knowing what this city meant to me I knew I also needed to be part of this,” he wrote in. “I called several of my friends and we decided we needed to be downtown first thing in the morning to try and help our city. We arrived downtown at 8 o clock and joined the 100's of proud citizens who were already working away trying to clean up this horrible mess. Everyone from little children to the elderly were doing everything they could, picking up little pieces of glass, cigarette butts, anything to clean our beautiful city. At the moment I had never felt prouder to be from Vancouver, this is what the real Vancouver was about: pride, community and love. I couldn't help but shed a tear as I saw a place that was tormented that night, restored to all its glory by its loving citizens.”
For Tyson Dvernechuk, a father and citizen of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, cleaning up was a learning experience for him and his daughter.
“I went and got my daughter out of school and proceeded with gloves and brooms in hand to try my best to offer her a chance to change the things that happened while she was sleeping soundly the night before,” he said.
“While we walked around sweeping up she asked many questions of who and why this had all happened. I showed her a few photos (posted on Facebook sites) over a box of timbits and explained to the best of my ability. As my thank you to her (the timbits all eaten) I got her a shirt made with the logo from the Facebook group post riot clean up. While she soon will out grow the shirt, the memory of our day will always be a perfect fit!”
The post-riot clean-up group created on Facebook helped organize and guide fans as to what needed to be done to undo the destruction, so while cousins Romi Gill and RJ Kohli weren’t brooms in hand, they’re the reason a lot of people were.
Gill and Kohli, who setup and promoted Post Riot Clean-up - Let's help Vancouver, had over 20,000 Likes on the page, which became a harbour for post-riot support from around the world. The pair then took things a step further by creating therealvancouver.ca “to promote the goodwill in Vancouver and show the world that Vancouverites are peaceful people and riots were not caused because Canucks lost.”
Both Gill and Kohli will be at Saturday’s game, as will Ward Grant, the Neil Armstrong of the “Wall of Love" that surrounded The Bay, where fans left encouraging messages to the city, it’s inhabitants and the Canucks.
The morning after, something inside Grant was screaming about how deplorable this treatment of Vancouver was.
“This is unacceptable and I will not stand for this, so I painted a poster,” wrote in Grant. “All I wanted to do was sneak down and put my poster up. The rest, as they say, is history. Way to go Vancouver.”
Grant’s handmade poster read “On Behalf of my team and my city, I'm sorry!" in black, blue, green and white letters. After receving a cheer for posting it, Grant offered markers to the crowd that had gathered and as he said, “the rest is history.”
The riot is history as well, thanks to all those who demonstrated the Heart of a Canuck when Vancouver needed them the most.