the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Canada’s Most Embarrassing City?

“Vancouver, Canada’s most embarrassing city.”

“Nice way to be classy, Vancouver.”

“I am ashamed that I am from Vancouver.”

“Never going to Vancouver again.”

There was a riot after a sporting event in Vancouver.  It wasn’t incredibly shocking to me, since I lived for many years in Los Angeles, where riots happen weekly at Little League games.    And considering that hockey is a violent sport where men love to drink Canadian beer… you get my point.  It isn’t a church crowd.

But I’m mostly talking about words right now.  And logic.

I know many are upset by this ugly display of violence and lack of sportsmanship, but why are so many blaming the city of “Vancouver” and not the small group of male hockey assholes who were drunk off their asses?   I constantly saw the city being blamed on Twtter last night and this morning.   Have we lost any sense of personal responsibility, or is the branding of a collective more important than what crimes individuals commit?   Or is this the result of only having 140 characters to make a point?   Is this the future of thought?

This blaming of “Vancouver” also makes me wonder if all of the political correctness that I see online is a facade, and that when people relax, they show their true colors about how they think.    I’ve always felt that more people actually DO blame the collective Muslim religion for Islamic terrorism than are actually saying it.  Or that a mommyblogger who “lacks integrity” DOES represent the collective.   Or that all “men” or “women” are to blame for some cultural problem.   I think we too often put people and groups into boxes because it is easier that way.   This makes me uncomfortable, even when it is something as meaningless as blaming “Vancouver.”  I know this particular example is a petty one, but YOU are the ones who are always saying that “language is important.”

And perhaps this is a personal issue, as someone familiar with Jewish history, where over and over again, the fingers were pointed at “the Jews” as involved in a collective crime.   What exactly did “Vancouver” do?

Group identity is important.  And we certainly want to be proud of the city or country in which we live.  But why are so many verbally abusing an entire city?   Is someone really never travelling to Vancouver again because of this one incident?   And to turn the tables on Vancouverites, are you so insecure with your image, that you are now shoving the blame on the “suburbanites” who don’t really live in the nice polite city?  What code word do the “suburbanites” represent?   Blue collar folk who don’t eat sushi?  How many times do we blame some ethnic group for crime in the city?

I’m not particularly politically correct myself.  I use stereotypes all the time for humorous effect.  But I was surprised how many people were upset at the “city of Vancouver.”

Vancouver, you are a very pretty town.   Embrace your new rough and tough image.  In all honesty, you were kinda boring before.


  1. abigail.road

    Great post Neil, and well said. Riots aren’t new to Canada, or to the Stanley Cup final, or to any sport for that matter. ( Soccer anyone? ) There are groups of douche bags in every city that watch every sport and are just waiting for a reason to cause trouble. It’s not “Vancouver’s” fault at all, may that be the city, or the hockey team.

  2. Emma

    Totally agree with you. Lots of people saying “Vancouver, so terrible” and “I’m ashamed to be a Canadian”. No, it’s like 50 assholes who decided to riot, and those same 50 assholes could have been in any city. The 50 assholes do not represent Vancouver or Canada or decency in humanity at large.

  3. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios

    “Have we lost any sense of personal responsibility, or is the branding of a collective more important than what crimes individuals commit? Or is this the result of only having 140 characters to make a point? Is this the future of thought?”

    I love the way your mind works. And no, I’m not being sarcastic. I really do.

  4. laura

    as our thoughts get shorter, our minds get smaller?

    i used to like twitter, social media, etc. now, i really don’t. it’s way too easy to quickly jump on any bandwagon without really knowing jack shit about it.

  5. erika

    how many times do you hear of rioting in canada? not very often. it’s too bad we dont riot over more important issues like poverty.

  6. BHJ

    I’m a little miffed about the attitude toward rioting. Rioting’s a blast.

    • Amy B.

      Being a riot instigator is most definitely on my bucket list.

  7. Emily

    Would it be more appropriate to blame a city when the “city” (police, mayors, hired security, city event planners, etc) knew what was going to happen and did nothing about it?

  8. Angella

    Thanks for this, Neil. I lived in Vancouver for 6 years and she feels like home to me.

  9. Pearl

    hear, hear, Neil. wonderfully put.

  10. Elle

    “Have we lost any sense of personal responsibility, or is the branding of a collective more important than what crimes individuals commit?”

    Yes, personal responsibility is important – and in my opinion that extends to the hundreds, nay thousands, who may not have broken a window, lit a car on fire, or stole anything, but instead egged on those that did, took photos and video and did nothing to stop the mindless destruction. Watch this video ( there are thousands watching and only one or two lone men who appear to be trying to change the course of events. And I think that is where the sense of disappointment comes in with the city – not for those that engaged in the rioting but those that gave the rioters the audience they were looking for.

    Also, in the same we can be proud of the collective for its shining moments (think Vancouver during the Olympics, New York during 9/11 – where yes, the city is branded by the behaviour of some, but not all, of its residents) the reverse can also be true.

  11. Always Home and Uncool

    That’s what separates Canada from the United States. We usually only riot when our teams win. Go figure.

  12. Juli

    My favourite line:

    “I’m not particularly politically correct myself. I use stereotypes all the time for humorous effect.”

    Me too. But I’d only slag off “the city of L.A.” Not Vancouver.

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