One year after the late NDP leader died from cancer, Jack Layton was remembered at a small public gathering on August 22, at the foot of Vancouver Convention Centre at Canada Place.
Celebrated by a smattering of orange t-shirts – some with his face on them – and a cooler packed to the brim with orange Crush soda, Layton’s supporters came to remember a man who fought for the issues they believed it, and whose words they could relate to.
“I think Jack was just such a personable guy that, even meeting with him for 20 seconds, gave you the impression that you knew him for an entire lifetime,” said Tim Chu, and NDP member who has worked on the party’s campaigns and met Layton, even though he admits it was for a brief handshake.
“I’ve had conversations with him, he’s such an incredible guy,” said Chu, who still talks about Layton like he’s alive. “He’s somebody that has inspired me quite a bit to get involved with the party, and I will continue to be involved with the party.
That’s why I’m down here today, to remember such a great guy.”
In the 2011 federal election, Layton led the NDP to its first-ever term as Canada’s official opposition, and was known as someone who would stand up or speak for the Average Joe.
“He was a regular guy, he wasn’t way up on a mountain somewhere,” said Marijka Grimm, an NDP supporter. “He came down, he talked to people, he met your eyes when he talked to you. He didn’t just shake your hand and walk away.
“He looked like the uncle who would sneak you a beer.”
Layton’s memory was celebrated all around B.C. on Wednesday.
“He changed the face of Canadian politics,” said Nathan Cullen, MP of Skeena-Bulkley Valley, to The Northern View. “Jack inspired many people to get involved with politics for the first time and work for change.”
The scene was very similar to last year’s candlelit vigil, held the day of Layton’s passing, at Vancouver Art Gallery.
There were other events held all around Canada on Wednesday night, with the biggest in Toronto, led by Layton’s widow and NDP MP Olivia Chow. There was also a Layton memorial held in Kamloops.
*video by Kolby Solinsky