An impression hit me tonight after a day of being out in the sun, enjoying an outdoor concert and reuniting with old friends. There is an ember in Vancouver that has begun to glow hotter as the Olympics arrive that has nothing to do with the Olympic torch. Vancouver is becoming a city that knows how to unite. For example: how, after a few hooligans disrupted an otherwise peaceful protest Saturday, the next day thousands made their way peacefully through the east side in memory of the downtown’s many missing women.
How, in the opening ceremonies, rather than celebrate a single significant athlete, five of our athletic heros – in both physical and public arenas – lit the torch together. Among them was Rick Hansen, a torch bearer for the disabled, a marginalized group given hope by his round-the-world tour.
And how, all around town, the chatter is that with the Olympics in town, Vancouver really knows how to party.
These events seem to be releasing a dormant trait in us – we have it, but have often found reasons not to exercise it (the weather, the oft-cited Canadianism of “the man” or some lack of resources). These Olympics, the varied-face-events that they are, have provide an opportunity for Vancouver to show the world one of our best and growing attributes: the will to do great things together, to have our heros, and more to be heros together for the things we believe in. Those things may be in competition (the Olympics vs. activists against their social impact for example). But in the competition we rally around the things we care about and make something happen.
So for once I think I can let my Canadian demeanour slide a bit and take a bit of pride in my city. For all the ups and downs, the villains and oppressors, we have something greater: a community that has learned how to rally around their causes.