British Columbia·PHOTOS

Michelle Obama brings a dose of inspiration to Vancouver

Hundreds of people flocked to Vancouver's Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Thursday to hear what Michelle Obama had to say.

Hundreds of people lined up around the block to hear the former first lady of the United States speak

There was a long lineup around the venue where Michelle Obama spoke in Vancouver on Thursday. (Jim Young/AFP/Getty Images, Rafferty Baker/CBC)

When Michelle Obama comes to town, the event immediately sells out. In fact, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, which hosted the speaking event, quickly added a second date.

On Thursday there were lines surrounding the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, as the public eagerly awaited its chance to hear the former U.S. first lady speak.

All photos by Rafferty Baker

Alexandra Mandewo

Alexandra Mandewo, 13, was the first person in the long lineup. She showed up two hours before Obama was scheduled to speak.

"It's inspiring how she became, like, a lawyer, and her stance on health and wellness with kids and women all over the world, so, it's really empowering," said Mandewo, who barely remembers when the Obamas moved into the White House.

"I was four years old. I'm pretty sure I was in pre-school and it was just really cool, because the only black role model I had growing up was my Mom. And then to see someone in the White House, the first black first lady — it was really inspiring," she said.

Mandewo's mother, Trish Mandewo, was able to snag the ticket for her daughter. She moved from Zimbabwe to Oklahoma, before settling with her family in Coquitlam.

"What does Michelle Obama stand for? Working hard. Not having any limitations and going for your goals, and if my daughter can see that and mimic that, then I'm a happy mom.," said Trish Mandewo.

Ayesha Khaira

​Ayecha Khaira is nearly a decade older than Alexandra Mandewo but still had the benefit of mostly growing up with Obama as a role model.

"I think she just, like, exudes confidence, and I think a lot of young women can look up to her because she's so confident," said Khaira.

"She's showing, even women of colour, that you can do it, and you can be powerful," she said, adding that her cousin was able to pull some strings with her employer to get tickets.

Chadwick Walker

Chadwick Walker is a member of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, but even he had to work to get a ticket to the event, going online first thing in the morning when they became available.

"I'm very excited," said Walker about hearing Obama. "She's a good advocate for youth, for women."

Leah George-Wilson

Leah George-Wilson was a leader in the Tsleil-Waututh community before shaking up her career in a move vaguely inspired by the Obamas.

"I just became a lawyer about three years ago, and I went after being in the workforce and raising a family, so yeah, she is an inspiration in that way," said George-Wilson.

Laurel Mason

Laurel Mason was one of many people who talked about the route Obama took before becoming the first lady — one filled with hard work.

"From the time Michelle has come onto the political stage, [she] is a woman that I've admired greatly. Especially being a woman of colour, she's inspiring to me," said Mason.

Judy Phipps

​Judy Phipps wasn't shy about what a big fan she is of Obama. For her, it's all about the former first lady's grace and attitude.

"Her message is always positive, never negative. She kind of has a take-no-shit demeanour, and I like that about her," said Phipps.

Merian Hasegawa

​Merian Hasegawa was taking time out from her Grade 12 classes to hear Obama speak — but she said there would be an assignment to do about it.

"Everything she's done, that she's worked up to, I just think she's an inspiration," said Hasegawa, who runs an intersectional feminism club at Burnaby Mountain Secondary School.

"Especially in the state of society we're in now, I just think she's a really great role model for women," she said.

Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker