/ The Vancouver Guide

Carrying the Torch for Canada: 2010 Winter Olympic Games

I was one of those Olympic dissenters, arguing that all the billions of dollars spent on this event could do better spent solving the very dire need of Vancouver’s homeless and low income families.  I firmly do disagree with the corporate greed and dictatorial attitude of VANOC and the IOC regarding these Games. But I have to admit that watching the torch relay on a daily basis since it began in the surf off the West Coast of Vancouver Island at Tofino, travelling all across the breadth of our country, from the Pacific Ocean to the snowy Arctic and the far Atlantic shores then back again, I have swelled with National Pride.  I believe more than anything, the torch relay has united our vast country and in spite of protests, most of us agree this is all about Canada and the athletes.  As the torch arrives back home to Vancouver, I like most of the other Vancouverites, swell with pride. 

Every torch bearer has a story of his or her own, from the 12 year old boy with cerebral polsy who’s run was thwarted by protestors, to the elderly woman from Merritt who has served her community for years.  The young and old, the physically fit and those with physicial disabilities who delivered the torch by wheelchair, the First Nations people who carried it in canoes, by dog-sled or horseback, the athelete who brought it down Grouse Mountain on top of the chair lift, its trip across False Creek by dragon boat and kayak.   Their stories are all part of our Canadian heritage and we watched them with pride as they did their part to transport the Olympic flame across our country.  Each one symbolizes Canada’s multicultural diversity, and each has done their part to bring us closer together as a nation. 

“Go Canada!  We Believe! ”  The cry is heard everywhere along the torch routes,  with the trademark red Olympic mitts, scarves, toques and Canadian flags.  As the torch is carried into BC Place Stadium for the Opening Ceremonies on February 12, we will welcome the world to our beautiful city. Most of all, we Canadians will rally together to support our athletes.

Although I had the privilege of seeing the torch run in Surrey earlier this week, this morning, I got up eary to find a place to watch the torch pass by my neighbourhood.  Groups of preschoolers and school kids lined the road in front of the Aboriginal Friendship Centre waving their Canadian maple-leaf flags.  The spirit of the Games filled everyone’s hearts and the excitement swelled as the time drew near for the torch to arrive.  But it didn’t!  Protesters in the downtown East Side had thwarted it’s run.  We all made a run for it, to see if we could catch it on it’s detour route. But it had passed by.  I caught a bus, trying to chase it down to another place. Again, I missed it.  But as I walked home again something incredible happened.  There was the torch, unlit, but still the real thing!  So in spite of the disappointment, here was a real opportunit to find out what it felt like to hold it!

So hold that torch high, Canada, and let the world see how proud we are of our athletes and this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to host the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games. 

PHOTOS by W. Ruth Kozak

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