Fourteen gold medals. A dramatic spike in Canadian pride. And a lot of half-price Olympic mascot merchandise.
In Vancouver’s post-apocOlympic world, Quatchi and his gang are now unemployed. His activist twin sister Quarotchety (see earlier posts) was horrified to come across this giant mutant version of herself during the Games. She probably felt the same way actor Glenn Close did years ago when a swarm of female fans, who had had plastic surgery to make themselves look like her, swarmed her.
But Quarotchety was thrilled to learn of a distant cousin Squatchi, introduced to Vancouver by some intrepid resident. Set free from Vanoc’s corporate family tree, the black-sheep part of the sasquatch family is growing . . . Who knows where they’ll turn up next?
During the Olympics, various television networks certainly took visual advantage of the scenic magnificence of Vancouver and Whistler. If I had never been to this region and saw the many gorgeous images shown on TV, I would be thinking: Wow, that place looks fantastic. But few media outlets provided much critical coverage of the Olympics within Vancouver’s total social-cultural context. That was hugely disappointing, but not at all surprising.
An acquaintance from South Africa said that the Olympic flag-waving fervour on Vancouver’s streets marked the first time she had ever seen Canadians show passion. I confess to enjoying the Go, Canada, Go signs, the many flags displayed, and the nationalistic spirit that grabbed we usually reserved Canucks during the Olympic hockey games, in particular.
While watching the men’s and women’s gold-medal hockey games at the home of friends, a group of us waved our flags, stuck up a Go, Canada, Go sign under the television, and activated various silly noisemakers whenever Canada scored. My husband Frank, an American, said that I could never again tease him about how patriotic Americans are. Admittedly, the sports hoopla was gosh darn fun.
I loved hearing spontaneous bursts of O, Canada sung by boisterous fans in the streets. It was great to see people swathed in the Canadian flag. Why can’t people get as excited about social and political issues that affect their lives on a more long-term basis?
I am pleased that B.C. Housing found shelter for bout 40 homeless people who had erected a tent city on Vanoc-leased property at 58 West Hastings Street during the Olympics. But why did it take coverage of the issue in international press before staff took action? Many advocacy groups on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside will be watching to see how the city and province respond to homelessness in this globally glorified city. (To find out more about the red tent campaign, see www.redtents.org.)
During the same week that Vancouver’s homeless erected the tent city, which bore red tents that said “Housing is a right,” visitors to Vancouver bought millions of dollars worth of luxury suites. Three sold in two high-end towers specifically for the Olympics. One included a $22.3 million penthouse under construction in Coal Harbour, beside the building that operated as the Olympic International Broadcast Centre.
I was shocked to find out that Vanoc donated $300,000 to the Haiti earthquake relief effort. That’s a laudable gesture of corporate social responsibility, but why couldn’t they have used some of that money to help alleviate the homelessness issue in Vancouver? While reaching out to other countries in the world, we can’t forget about our own folks and faults.