On Sunday, I attended the 2009 Poverty Olympics that took place in the Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. The theme this was "End Poverty. It's not a game".
The event started with the Torch Parade that left the VANDU office, 380 E Hastings, the parade was formed of about 200 peoples accompanied by the big sound of band's drums and other instruments.
The parade walked down to Main where the symbolic torch was passed to another person under the chanting and applause of the audience formed by the parade participants and some onlookers. Then everybody walked and danced in circle in the intersection at Main and E Hastings for while under the sound of the music. The parade heated back on E Hastings to Dunelevy for another torch pass. From Dunelevy the parade walked to Alexander, everybody was chanting, dancing, and having fun. On Alexander the parade marched to the Japanese Language School, where the second annual Poverty Olympics' events were planned to take place.
Inside, the events started with the opening ceremonies hosted by the mascots Itchy the bed bug and Chewy the rat. There was the unveiling of the End of Poverty Torch with the Poverty Olympics Choir, followed by an Aboriginal spiritual song.
All a long, during the opening and the games, the host voiced some interesting facts;
Did you know?
- That just a few blocks from the luxury condos of the Olympics' athlete's village were bunch of our money are spend on bailouts, the HIV is as high as in Botswana;
- That the highest rate of child poverty in Canada is found in British Columbia;
- That 32% of the homeless in the lower mainland are Aboriginals while they only form 2% of the population;
- That in the last six years homelessness went up to an outrageous 373%;
- That billions are spent on the Olympics venues while small change is spent on housing the homeless;
- That you and me will be paying over 6 billion dollars that will spent by the end of the coming Olynpics, money that could built lot of new unit for social housing, raise welfare, lower the barriers that keep people in real needs from getting the aid they desperately need.
Like all Olympics, the event ended with the medal ceremony, but there was no looser in this one they were all winners.
The event was concluded by a cakes, snacks, and a pictures with the mascots.
The Poverty Olympics used good humor to portray the big corporations and their hunger for profits on the backs of the poor and the distressed, it also showed how the coming Olympics are the wrong way to spend public money while homelessness and poverty are growing at an alarming level in our beautiful province, apparently the best place in the world.