Vancouver Riots – A lesson of Life
Last Wednesday I thought I was going to witness history take place, instead I saw a repeat of the 1994 Vancouver Canucks riots. I’ve been a fan of the team since I began playing Hockey in the late 70’s after my 4th birthday. This blog post was going to be all about the lessons of a team that I am so proud of and I still believe is the best hockey team in the world today, however, the actions of what took place after the game serve as a greater teacher. So here goes…
Vancouver Riots – The Beginning
I moved to Vancouver, BC when I was just 3. Although I was raised on the other side of the tracks I have spent most of my life in this extraordinary city. Being a Canucks fan was just a part of being a canadian kid who loved to lace up his skates. In 1994 I can remember watching Vancouver forcing a game 7 in the Stanley Cup finals against the NY Rangers. The streets were packed downtown and we celebrated into the late hours of the a.m. After losing game 7 in NY the energy and vibe was very different here. I was downtown right in the middle of very serious riots, vandalism and looting. I was 20 years old and had just began my journey of introspection, growth and mastery. Today I still wonder why I didn’t participate in the violence and crime because that was the life I was accustomed to. Instead I had front row seats watching as 100o’s of people got beat down by cops in riot gear.
Vancouver Riots – Today
Last Wednesday I was at a seminar just outside the Vancouver downtown center, which’s where the canucks play. We pushed the seminar back so we could all watch the game first. Well as you know there was no celebrating for us, but instead a shameful Vancouver Riot. Unlike 1994 the police handled this very differently. In 1994 they attacked the mob and I had a great seat to watch this. It was actually very violent. I felt the cops went too far and court cases went on for years. Last Wednesday there weren’t many cops in sight. Instead they tried to get people out of the downtown core and let the mob navigate through the streets as they pleased. And the mob did exactly that. Here are a few pics of the Vancouver Riots.
Pretty harsh pics for me to look at! Actually they make me feel a little nauseous. Yet I believe pictures speak a million words. The city had so many questions… Who were these people? Is this what people from Vancouver are like? I thought Canadians were friendly? I could begin to answer some of these questions for you, but truly they don’t serve a grander purpose.
Vancouver Riots – A lesson in Behaviour
When I was 19 years old I wanted to learn what drives human behavior. Why do we do what we do? Why do we act, say and behave certain ways? Where does happiness and health come from? How do some people get some results, while other people don’t? Big questions for a little man!
In 1994 I didn’t have the education, worldy experience and state of awareness that I have today. When I was a teenager I used to entertain myself by going to the same streets these riots were on and would glue a dollar coin on the ground and watch people try to peel it off as they walked by. Some would go directly to it. Others would see it and then scope it out from a distance and when they thought nobody was watching, which I always was from a nearby patio, they would swoop in and try their attempt. Some would nudge it, others would lay down their bags get on their hands and knees and try to pry it for several seconds. Humans are an interesting bunch of peeps. So why do normal everyday people do strange things like riot after a game is lost?
Vancouver Riots – The stories within
I always told my friends that no matter how much you hated your enemies, they all had a mother, father, possibly a sibling and friends that loved them and thought the world of them. It was true! And just because we had a beef with them, it just meant that that was the lens we were given in our dynamic. From another perspective a rival enemy could’ve been our best friend.
There was a 17 year old, called Nathan Katylak, who was a part of the Vancouver Riots. Here’s a picture of him below lighting a police car on fire.
You may already be judging him for his actions above. So here’e the scoop on Nathan. He’s raised in a suburb of Vancouver by well educated parents. His father’s a physician named Dr. Greg Kotylak. Nathan is also a dedicated athlete and is on the Canadian Junior Water Polo team and is an Olympic hopeful. He’s going to be attending the University of Calgary next year too. Here’s another perspective of this young man…
So Nathan’s not very proud of what he did. He’s even been suspended from the national water polo program. Now Nathan seriously messed up here. For whatever reason Nathan and his family decided to turn himself in to police. He has a lawyer and I’m sure will be rallied through the system relatively unscathed.
There are literally 1000’s of stories like this from the Vancouver Riots. I think it’s fair to say that the people responsible for the Vancouver Riots are not professionally rioters. They are everyday people just like you and me. Some were raised on one side of the tracks and some from the other side. They have lovers and haters just like you and me.
This is what gets me about this particular story. Maybe Nathan turned himself in because there were pics of him plastered everywhere. Maybe he felt morally obliged. Maybe his parents made him do it. We’ll never know. But in the end he did a bad thing and now did a better thing. So get this, after turning himself in and this being in the local papers his family has had to leave their home because of angry local citizens. There home address has been published online and they have been receiving threats of violence. Can you believe it?
Interesting! So someone does something shitty in the vibe of violence and retribution is returned from the same vibe.
Vancouver Riots – The Next Day
The day after the Vancouver Riots over 10,000 Vancouver locals went downtown between 7-10am and cleaned up the entire city. My wife, Kate, was one of those peeps, a big high five for her. She even had a few live media interviews as they got a hold of her twitter feeds. I was busy in a meeting that morning, but went down there after and I was pleasantly surprised to see the city I love so much to be in good shape. There were even people signing the boards that covered broken windows from retail stores.
Vancouver Riots – A Lesson of Life
This board was covering a huge window that looters broke to get into the bookstore called Indigo/Chapters. It said things like…
“We’re Sorry Vancouver”
“We Love U”
“Please Forgive Us”
“Congrats Boston, We Still Love U Vancouver”
“No More Violence”
“No Riot Next Time, Promise”
“We Forgive Rioters”
“This is the Real Soul of Vancouver”
“Love Not War”
There were dozens of these boards covering up the aftermath and they were all plastered with personal messages of inspiration. I was truly moved. I believe that one of my greatest teachers, Gandhi, would have been so proud if he saw this. He said that in life, “You must be the change you wish to see in this world”. That’s my challenge for you, to Be the change!
You will make mistakes in your life and some will be bigger than others. They may be as big as our young friend Nathan and the world may judge you for your actions. I do not believe there are bad people in this world. I believe there are disconnected people and as a result they are doing bad things. That’s my answer for human behaviour.
If your not happy with your life, the choices you’re making and the results you’re getting, It’s time to get reconnected to that special something deep within you. You’ll stop following herd mentality and start being the captain of your own ship. You’ll also chill from the judgements you place upon others. This is how this guy calmed his girlfriend down as they were knocked over during the Vancouver Riots. Yes, they’re making out in the middle of it all.
So as you navigate through this week observe your thoughts, actions and behaviours. Then you can better guide them through your internal compass.
To Your Mastery,
PS: If we each do our part the “Vancouver Riots” experience can end in every city