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Heroes Emerge From Vancouver Riot

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After Vancouver’s crushinVancouver riot 2011g hockey defeat last week, when Boston took home the Stanley Cup by winning over the Canucks, things took a terrible turn.

Crowds ran into the streets of Vancouver and people began smashing store windows, stealing things from stores and even overturning cars and setting things on fire.

The evening, which had started out with such high hopes for a Canadian Stanley Cup victory, turned into a horrible embarrassment for Vancouver and Canada.

Many people took photos and videos that night. The police are looking through the footage so they can identify the people who did the rioting, and charge them.

At least one person has emerged from the terrible night as a hero. Robert MacKay stood up to some rioters. He stood in front of a crowd that was trying to smash a store window. He yelled at them to stop, and he grabbed people before they could cause damage.

Robert MacKay Vancouver riot hero; image: Richard Lam, Toronto Star
Robert MacKay tried to top the rioters. Image: Richard Lam, Toronto Star

Unfortunately, the angry mob turned on him. They grabbed MacKay and started to punch and kick him. Two very brave people stepped in to help MacKay. Dean Seskin and Chris McLelland came to MacKay’s rescue. They pulled him to safety.

MacKay met up with his two rescuers after the event. He calls them his heroes.

But they say MacKay is the true hero, for trying to stop the mob from destroying their city. McLelland joked that he thinks of himself as “Robin,” and MacKay is “Batman.”

Other people also stood up to the rioters that night, to protect the city they love.

Meanwhile, one rioter has come forward to admit that he did some bad things that night. Nathan Kotylak has apologized to everyone for what he did. He was caught on camera appearing to try to light a gas-soaked rag stuffed in the gas tank of a police car.

Kotylak is still in high school. Normally offenders under 18 years old cannot be named, under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. But Kotylak says he wants to tell the public who he is and what he did, so he can try to make up for it.

There will likely be serious consequences for Kotylak’s actions. He dreams of making it to the Olympics for water polo, but because of that night he may get suspended from the junior men’s water polo team. He may also be charged by police.

Related links
Here is an excellent CBC News article with more information about the riot and how the Vancouver police are trying to track down and charge rioters.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS

Writing/Discussion Prompt
The riots that followed the Stanley Cup final game have raised a lot of questions in people’s minds. Why did people riot? If they are caught, what should their consequences be?  How can we prevent this from happening again?
Discuss these questions as a class or in small groups.

Reading Prompt
Robert MacKay, Dean Seskin and Chris McLelland are all described as heroes. What characteristics make someone a hero? Think of a character from a book or movie that is a hero.  How are they similar or different to MacKay, Seskin or McLelland?

Primary
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge and experience, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Junior
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Intermediate
Extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Grammar Feature: Simile
A simile compares two different things and explains how they are similar. Often similes use the words as or like when they are being compared. In the article, McLelland says that he thinks of himself as “Robin” and he thinks that MacKay is like “Batman.”
What do you think he means? Does this simile help you to understand the story?