British Columbia

Vancouver riot hero honoured

A man proclaimed as one of the heroes of Vancouver's Stanley Cup riot has been honoured at the site where he was beaten after he stood up to a group of vandals and looters.
Robert McKay covers his head as rioters swarm him June 15. (CBC)

A man proclaimed as one of the heroes of Vancouver's Stanley Cup riot has been honoured in a reception at the site where he was beaten after he stood up to a group of vandals and looters.

Robert MacKay defied a group of people smashing their way into the Hudson's Bay Co. department store on West Georgia Street in the June 15 mayhem  following the final game of the Cup series.

Internet video from that night shows MacKay trying to stop people from breaking into the store and a number of people then swarming over him, kicking and punching him, dragging him to the ground and dousing him with pepper spray.

"Robert, you inspired us and good things happen out of bad things," said Bay president Richard Baker, speaking from a special stage set up outside the store Thursday.

Baker said MacKay's bravery reminded people about the need to act for the greater good.

"To look inside of ourselves, to think about what else can we do for the people around us, rather than always thinking about what's good for us," Baker said.

Overwhelmed with attention

Vancouver police Insp. Rob Rothwell said officers on the streets that night felt alone, isolated and outnumbered, but took heart seeing people such as MacKay step in.

McKay is congratulated by B.C. MLA Shane Simpson during the Thursday event. (CBC)
"It's much like being thrust into a living nightmare where you're surrounded by marauding zombies that have taken over the city and there's no one left with any sense of sanity or responsibility," said Rothwell. 

The man receiving the accolades said he's been overwhelmed by all the attention.

"[I'm] extremely thankful I didn't get hurt more than I did," MacKay said. "A couple of scrapes, cuts and bruises but other than that, nothing serious." 

His proud father, Ian MacKay, was also at Thursday's event.

"We were mightily impressed and delighted to see how he was willing to stand up in the face of such adversity to do what was the right thing to do and we applaud all the others who did the same," his father said.

With files from the CBC's Greg Rasmussen