Thursday, June 16, 2011

Vancouver Riots From A Vancouver Youth Worker Perspective

It is not very often that the sport of Hockey gets so much attention around the world.  Last night, however, when the Vancouver Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins the normally peace loving city broke into all out mayhem.  Normally it is difficult to get Canadian people riled up unless you don't properly recycle your coffee cups.  However, to many Canadians, Hockey is more than a sport, it is a national identity.  When people found out that I was American during the 2010 Winter Olympics they would berate me with hockey smack talk when I'm not even a hockey fan.  At the time I mentioned that I was cheering for Canada in the Gold Medal Game because the American would lose and change the channel to see what else was on, Canadian experiencing a loss may commit suicide. Living so close to the United States there are many reasons why Canadian's feel this way toward Americans.  There are many great things that differentiate these two great countries, but many times Canada can seemingly disappear from view.

When it comes to hockey they have found something in which they can display their obvious superiority.  The majority of NHL players are Canadian born (as a matter of fact there were more Canadians on the Boston team than the Vancouver team).  Having lived in the Vancouver area for almost 9 years now I have not found anything that will get Canadians as riled up as the "good old hockey game."  I know that the police were preparing for the possibility of riots, yet this news was a major shock to people in the region. If Canadians will riot about anything it would be hockey. But to many of us that love Canada, this occasion is a bit like being cussed out and slapped by the sweetest old grandma in the world.

There is a tremendous local reaction against these riots. A friend of mine, Jordan Bateman said it well this way, "It broke my heart to see Kesler's [a Vancouver Super Star] teary face during his interviews, then flip channels and see idiots wearing his name committing crimes." There are many many report of accusing the rioters as not even being true hockey fans.  While you can see the true nature of the Canadian spirit with the massive amounts of volunteers heading into the city to help with the clean up, what happened cannot be ignored.  As a youth worker I see that this reaction by so many young people in the city as a confirmation that the work I do is needed in the area. My team and I have the dream that the youth of the region would have the means to live a healthy life: physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually.  What we see here is a severe emotional and social illness.  This instance can and will be a teaching moment as my team and I intersect with young people over the next year. On twitter @mistyvanpopta sent a message to a local politician that stated this fact: "[The rioters are] young people who'll regret actions. Everyone looks to blame auth, but maybe its bad parenting." It could be, but it is our society's responsibility now.

Take this as an opportunity to learn a bit more about what makes Canada great, to give them credit for great hockey.  Also realize that there is a lot of work to be done, both in the short term with clean up, and long term as our team works with teens and young adults.  If you would like to help support the ongoing work in the Vancouver area please support my work: Click here to donate. Be sure to make a note that it is to support youth work of Danny Ferguson
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