What is a hero?
The classic picture is of a young lad with muscles galore who does everything in his power to rescue the damsel in distress, or thats what Walt Disney would like you to believe. A hero is cape and form fitting suit is Super Man or Spider man’s way of life but really most heros are just ordinary people who we walk with everyday.
Last June, the city of Vancouver was taken over by rioters who were steaming from a Canucks Stanley Cup loss and wanted to do some damage. The very next morning heroes were born. They came in every age, sex and race carrying only brooms, brushes and garbage bags with no capes to be seen. They boarded up shops, removed garbage and made the city itself again in under 4 hours. Hundreds of thousands of people cleaning up a city they lived in and have fell in love with.
For the Vancouver Canucks this time of year is where the player remove the rust, play out the kinks and test out the prospects but it is also a time in which Canucks Sports & Entertainment is taking a minute to say thanks to the thousands who were there on June 16th cleaning statues, buildings and removing burnt out police cars and garbage cans.
During the first 3 pre-season games of the year the Canucks hosted members of the Vancouver Police Department & Royal Canadian Mounted Police who donned the riot gear and so valiantly protected the innocent and protected the city and its treasures, 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 who risked their lives to put out cars, garbage cans and pretty much anything on fire as well as tend to the injured no matter who that person was, innocent or not. So the Vancovuer Canucks final pre-seaon game on Saturday against the visiting Oilers is reserved to recognize those volunteers who initiated the clean up efforts through Facebook and Twitter and were there as early as 6-7AM to clean up a city that to some wasn’t even where they had a address.
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.
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.”
The 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, which become a place in which people all over the world posted their post-riot support. 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.