Olympic Torch Diverted

Torch Protest PartyThere was excitement in the air on Commercial Drive this morning. People were beginning to mill about to greet the torch around 9am, the scheduled time for the flame to begin making its way up from Hastings and Commercial. Things were running late and there was a rumour that a group of protesters at Victory Square had caused a delay.

By 10am there were people lining the street all the way from 1st Ave to Hastings, and around the corner into the distance. Most were out to support the torch run with red and white worn on clothing, painted on faces, and waving in the air.

But at Grandview Park, a couple of hundred people had turned out to protest. They were in mostly positive spirits and feeling festive themselves, though they carried signs criticizing the Olympics for everything from overspending to questionable corporate sponsors and their connections to environmental degradation.

Led by the incredible Carnival Band the protesters moved their way down to Venables and Commercial where an impromptu party got going in the middle of the street. For good or bad, depending on your perspective, the powers that be decided to reroute the torch away from a possible confrontation. Legal, non-violent public protest blocked the torch from appearing on The Drive!

Victory in hand, the band marched the crowd up to 1st and Commercial where they blocked the intersection, played music, and danced in celebration. While I heard a few pro-Olympics spectators grumble a bit, most seemed in good spirits despite losing the chance to see the torch come through and many were even seen enjoying the excellent music and good vibes amongst the protesters.

But the highlight for me was walking by Brittania school after the parade disruption and hearing the students being addressed over the loudspeaker. Many if not all of the students had been out of school to watch the torch come through. The speaker was explaining the value and importance of freedom of speech and the right to protest. What a great lesson for the day!

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2 Responses to “Olympic Torch Diverted”

  1. The Carnival Band says:

    As a member of the Carnival Band, I’d like to clarify some details of our involvement in the protest that may have been misunderstood.

    The Carnival Band in no way intended to “lead” this protest. We were present on our own accord, as a community band from the Commerical Drive area, and were not affiliated with the organizations orchestrating it. We came to support the right to positive, progressive community dialogue about essential issues, and to bring color, fun, and joy to an event that had the potential be angry, and negative.

    At the event we purposefully distanced ourselves from the main conglomerate of protesters because of a disconnect between the band’s own philosophy surrounding demonstration, and the way the protest was shaping up.

    On our website, we state: We believe that many of our social and environmental dilemmas today stem from a lack of empathy and effective, non-violent expression. The creation of music in group settings has, for millennia, been a critical part of how we learn these vital human skills…. Our mission is to fill the city with live, original music from around the world as a means to personal and political empowerment, creativity, and wellness.

    For more information on the band’s values and visions, please see http://thecarnivalband.com/, under “The Open Air Orchestra Society”



  2. sean says:

    Thanks for the clarification and the great music! I didn’t really intend to imply a connection between the Carnival Band and any organisation or leadership of the protest. I admit that my words were sloppy. It was actually meant as a description of how people are often led by music.

    And you guys play some pretty catchy tunes…

    I’ve always appreciated the Carnival Band’s presence at various events I’ve been to. You bring a sense of fun, positivity, and spontaneous celebration to what are sometimes difficult moments in the life of a community.

    Keep sharing that funky music!

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