Shane Koyczan


There are not many weeks when you find your blog entry writes itself.

Born in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, growing up in Penticton, Shane Koyczan appeared from shimmering curtains of white toward the end of the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. It was a “blink-twice” moment: what could a poet have to do with Olympic athletics, with skiing and snowboarding, skating and sledding? Standing in front of our students in Chapel today, his comment was a smile and a “Wow, so formal.” Not a formal guy himself, he is nevertheless imposing – approachably so.

He is here to participate in our student-led conference, “Youth Addressing Local Poverty,” an impressive day-and-a-half of speakers and discussions organized by students in the Senior School. Shane delivered a performance of his poem “To This Day.” Poem?!? Before you stifle a yawn consider this: when Shane posted “To This Day” on YouTube, it received 1.4 million hits in the first two days, over 7 million hits in the first six weeks. It gained so much prominence he also presented it as a TED Talk – I hardly know which version to send you to. Probably the Ted Talk gives you the better sense of what our students got today.

After he was done, I was lucky enough to shake his hand and tell him that his performance at the 2010 Olympic Opening Ceremony of “We are More” – about the heart and soul of Canada – was one of my favorite moments of that event (the other being K.D. Laing’s rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”). If you want to catch Shane’s performance, the best version I can find is in the YouTube version of the 2010 Olympic Opening Ceremony, where you need to go to 2:15:25  if you want to catch that shimmering curtain I spoke about.

A look at these videos won’t just let you walk along the corridors of SMUS for five or six minutes, it may also become a special moment of your own.



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