Priests, laity hold fort against rioters

July 11, 2011

VANCOUVER - The Canucks' Game 7 match against the Boston Bruins started off as a great day for Father Glenn Dion, rector of Holy Rosary Cathedral. He had been given a ticket to the coveted game as a gift, so he felt comfortable splurging on a new jersey at the Bay.

He enjoyed the game "even though we didn't win," and when he began walking home to the cathedral rectory he saw mostly happy people.

Before long, however, he started seeing "drunken youngsters" and smoke. By the time he reached the cathedral, he realized the situation was serious.

"A volunteer said, 'Father, there are people in the hall, and they are frightened,'" Dion said. "They were rehearsing for Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS): kids, teens and parents. They didn't want to go home and were afraid of who might come in."

As the mob moved down Richards Street, smashing the windows of Rosary Hall along the way, Dion knew he needed to take action.

He thought, "I'm the cathedral guy and I need to do something to hold people at bay."

He replaced his jersey and Canucks hat with his black shirt and Roman collar and stood tall with arms crossed behind the cathedral's iron fence.

Fathers Fred Buttner, Anicet Pinto and Terrance Larkin soon joined Dion, as did members of a Bible study class from the hall and even a few passersby.

The group of about 12 stood guard on the cathedral grounds, preventing people from climbing the fence, while nearby businesses were looted.


The street was filled with screaming and yelling, he said. "People were turning over vehicles in the car park."

When the police moved in to disperse the crowds, the group moved into the rectory until the streets cleared.

After about a half hour, the people from TUTS and the Bible study class could leave, at which point Dion took a broom, shovel and bucket to start clearing the broken glass. "Some young fellows offered to help me" while others offered their condolences.


"There were young girls tearful in their expression of sympathy and apology for what had happened and what our loss was," he said. "One lady said 'This all I have on me' and shoved some money in my hand."

The next morning Dion witnessed an even greater outpouring of support when hundreds of people were organized online to help with cleaning up the wreckage downtown.

"The streets were full of volunteers with gloves, garbage bags and reflective vests just going all down the street helping to clean up."

He said all these people "wanting to help and to express a kind of shame about how they felt about this happening" was something "positive out of a rather harrowing experience."