Mine And Ours

My home has changed. The neighbourhood that surrounds me has undergone a transformation in the last 48 hours that is not unlike being refined by fire, if you will. Anyone who has opened a newspaper, flicked on the news or clicked onto a blog since the evening of June 15th is well aware of the events that transpired in Vancouver and so going into any kind of detail is pointless.

Everyone has a voice and the impressions and ideals of the City of Vancouver have been stretched thin in the wake of Wednesday evening. It’s quite luxurious for anyone to have an opinion from the comforts of a distance – whether based on one’s biases, their past experiences with Vancouver or even their championing of our fair city.

A far more realistic take, however, will come from those that have witnessed everything with their own eyes from within the eye of the storm.

Downtown Vancouver is my home, it is my neighbourhood and it is the place where many of my friends live. It’s comprised of the streets we walk on to get to work, the corner stores from where we buy gallons of milk and late-night snacks and the parks we walk our dogs to on sunny days. It is “home” by the very definition of the word.

For any group of people to come into one’s neighbourhood and physically destroy everything that surrounds is incomprehensibly heartbreaking. As I made the daily walk to my office yesterday, it took every ounce of me to blink back tears seeing what had been done to my home, to the places and faces I see and greet each and every day.

Whether this happened in urban Vancouver or on tree-lined streets in a tiny interior town matters not. In a few short hours, the morale of an entire community was derailed by thousands of outsiders – people who did not live in the area, pay taxes to the local government or care for even a minute about the responsibility they as citizens of our planet have. As I stepped onto my balcony late that night, as the riot squad was advancing up my street just metres below me, neighbours of mine were on their balconies also shouting “go home!” to the intruders below.

When one’s home, body or rights to safety are being violated, fighting back is a perfectly acceptable response. Not with actions, not by fighting fire with fire, but by banding together as a community. By rising up from the ashes and broken glass and taking a stand against the violation.

Greater Vancouver residents from all walks of life converged on the downtown core as the sun rose yesterday morning and transformed this City. It was restored, it was rebuilt and it was renewed. Not simply by appearance but also in spirit.

Those of us that call Vancouver home will not tolerate or allow anyone to define us by the reckless actions of intruding outsiders. Painting this city’s residents with the same brush is hasty at best. Unless you live in Vancouver, unless you experienced the events of that particular night, your opinion is wholly moot. Those of us that call Vancouver home will not allow our home to be tarnished, but instead will ensure that the beauty and close comfort of our community will shine brightly.

While I may not always adore city life and I may have days where I’m more than ready to throw in the towel, this is still my home. This is still the place that I am proud of. It’s where I lay my head. It’s the streets that I walk to get to work. It’s the corner store where I buy gallons of milk and fulfill my late night chocolate cravings. It’s the parks that I take Jordy to on sunny days like day.

It’s beautiful and it’s mine and it’s ours.

[Thank you, Tony, for encouraging me to share my thoughts on all of this.]

On September 11th I’ll be participating in the BC-SPCA’s Paws For A Cause fundraiser – for the fourth time! Please considering donating to this extremely worthwhile cause and offering support to Jordy and I! Click here to read more.

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11 Comments on “Mine And Ours

  1. Fantastically written!

    I received a call from my sister who lives on the edge of downtown when the riots broke out to let me know what was going on and that she was safe. As a former Vancouverite I was broken hearted.

    I endured the same careless violence in Edmonton 5 years ago when the Oilers made the playoffs. I lived one block away from where all of the bars are. The curling rink across the street from my house became a temporary drunk tank as cops hauled people off the street in mini buses. The riot squad was out as people lit fires in trash cans and destroyed cars. It is an absolute abomination and violation of the rights of the people who live in such neighbourhoods to endure such senseless violence.

    I have great empathy for those around the world who endure this kind of violence on a daily basis.

  2. @Jenny – People that don’t live in the downtown core. The vast opinion now is that Vancouver is a “classless” city but it wasn’t downtown residents that were trashing and vandalizing their own neighbourhood.

  3. I live in Burnaby and I have to say I was totally choked at what people were doing. Not only do I love to visit Vancouver’s core (when I can that is) but I once called it home, no matter how long ago or short lived it was. What those rioters did to the city was disgusting and broke my heart. I was so happy and proud to see the people make the facebook pages to catch to idiots who destroyed the streets and to clean it all up.

    It’s a beautiful city, one that I was, and still am, proud to show off to my Fiance.

  4. What happened was obviously extremely disappointing, pointless, unacceptable and just classless in every way, but I think your blog iss off base with your attack on “outsiders.” It seems you’ve made an us and them mentality and I just don’t think that’s very helpful or appropriate while analyzing what happened the other night.

    I’m sure lots of people who didn’t live in Vancouver were rioting and causing extensive damage in the city, but I’m sure as well that certainly some of the people involved were from Vanouver as well. At the end of the day where a person lives is really not important. Mostly stupid drunk males took part in the chaos and destruction downtown on Wednesday night, and they should all be punished to the fullest.

    To me it doesn’t matter where a person comes from. If someone commits an offense I would only care that they are punished accoringly. Placing the blame squarely on people who aren’t living in the city is off the mark and referring to the people as outsiders is just unwelcoming, cold, and a slap in the face to many amazing people who live in other parts of the lower mainland, British Columbia, Canada, or even the world in general.

    So obviously what happened is totally unacceptable and anyone responsible should be fully punished, terming all of those responsible as outsiders is not only inaccurate it really comes across the wrong way. Not too many people are born and live in one city their entire life, so by your definition almost everyone living in Vancouver would have been an outsider at some point, and I’m sure there are tons of people from Vancouver living in other cities in Canada and around the world as well.

    The point is that no one is better than anyone else and where one lives really doesn’t matter. The world would be such a boring place if we all just lived in one place our whole lives and didn’t get out to experience the world. But how are people supposed to feel comfortable visiting and potentially moving to another city knowing that there are people thtat consider them “outsiders.” I just really think you could have used a better choice of words in your analysis as “outsiders” just comes across as being closed minded and ready to pass the blame to anyonee who isn’t originally from or living in the city…. and that’s going too far.

    And while its not a great thing to just judge a city from afar by what happens, I’m sure people in Vancouver do it all the time too with other cities in the world, so really it works both ways ! Basically I just think people need to be working together in cases like this and while what happened was horrible, it certainly is nothing compared to what is going on in countries like Libya , Syria or Egypt, so in comparative terms if this is the worst that happens here we are pretty well off.

    That being said of course what happened is unacceptable in every way. Sure people are upset, but using an us vs. them mentality here is no way to go, and by using terms like “outsiders” and segregating people just isn’t appropriate. The damage is done, punish all those responsible, and do what can be done to ensure something like this never happens again, though unfortunately its hard to deal with stupid drunks !

  5. @Drake – Perhaps what I wrote wasn’t interpreted by some in the way I intended, but the points you made where pretty close to what I wanted to get across.

    A lot of views from different parts of the Lower Mainland, the country and around the world are calling Vancouver “classless” and further some are implying that because the downtown core is a metropolis that we had it coming or even that we brought it upon ourselves. As I stated in a comment above, the destruction caused that night wasn’t done by those that live in the downtown core – downtown residents did not go about and destroy their own neighbourhood.

    It’s not a matter of us vs. them: it’s a matter of the fact that this is my neighbourhood and the area that I live in. You said “The point is that no one is better than anyone else and where one lives really doesn’t matter.” Yes, exactly. It’s not any different than had it happened in a suburban or even rural neighbourhood where people work, live and socialize with their friends. No one living downtown was ever okay with what happened, just as you would be equally as outraged if the same event happened on the street in front of your house.

    My post was not an analysis on what happened on Wednesday. The point is simply that just because Vancouver was the site of the riot, no one anywhere should deduce that the events that occurred here are a reflection of this city’s residents. I’m tired of hearing that Vancouver is “classless” because it was, in fact, not Vancouver that rioted its own city.

  6. I was devastated by what happened. I love our city and the people who destroyed it and made us Vancouverites look bad were neither hockey fans or Vancouverites!

    I wish that the media (this story hit the View!) would report the wonderful things the real Vancouverites did to help clean up afterwards. But of course, they only report on the negative things that happened. =(

    I wrote about that night too, I live in the West End and was working a block and a half away at the time of the riots…


  7. I loved this article. What happened was a shame and it’s a problem that needs to be weeded out. Vancouver is my dream city and I would like to live there. Hopefully I could get to atleast visit this lovely place and if I see any rioter, I will personally kick the crap outta them and hand them over to the cops.

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