Kindness Flag Project

Kindness. Contemplation. Creation. Connection.

About a Wonderful Thing and a Brave Little Toy Pig Named “Olivia”

A wonderful thing happened after the Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver: In less than six hours after the last rioter left, plywood boards were installed to replace broken store windows and soon after that, while citizens streamed into the downtown core to help with the clean-up efforts, a single, spontaneous message written on a plywood board outside The Bay inspired people to write consoling message upon message of apology to Vancouver and the world for the actions of the rioters. The Kindness Flag Project offered another way for people to express their feelings, adding depth to the experience by giving people an opportunity to select a piece of fabric and then make some sort of considered and personal mark on it and then leave it behind with hundreds of other flags.

It is in this climate that a brave little stuffed toy pig named “Olivia” found herself being photographed beside words on plywood and messages on flags. Her mission was to show a little girl living elsewhere that Vancouver wasn’t a scary place after all.

Christine McDowell and her friend Moira contacted me with this story and Emailed pictures they had taken of Olivia and the “wall” outside The Bay on the second day of the Kindness Flag Project. Christine explained Olivia’s presence in the pictures:

“Olivia is a wonderful spunky character much appreciated by my little niece Alexandra (and the rest of my family in Ontario and Alberta).

I was afraid the riot would frighten her and make her reluctant to visit Vancouver. So I brought my little Olivia doll – who I take photos of here and send to Alex – to the Wall of Hope and Kindness Flag Project that Mo told to me about. I was tremendously moved that people were reclaiming the city and I wanted children to be part of it. When we velcroed Olivia to the wall, so many other people took her photo too.

I wanted to help heal Alexandra, but I also helped heal myself. We live right downtown in the West End and were quite affected by the riot.

One of my favourite images of Olivia is the one where she is to the left of two little drawn characters and a red heart – Mo took that one.”

You’re so welcome to the images! Thank you for the work you are doing, I loved your project.”

These are some of the pictures of Olivia’s adventure to make a little girl feel better, and by extension make a whole lot of other people feel better too. Thanks Olivia!

Photos by Christine McDowell

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Email: kindnessflagproject AT gmail DOT com
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