Nathan Kotylak
Nathan Kotylak / Unkn

The Vancouver Riots in 2011 shocked the city’s residents, Canada, and the world. One of the iconic (or infamous) images of the riot was that of Nathan Kotylak attempting to light a police car on fire.

The image was widely spread on the web and on social media websites. Subsequently, Kotylak was outed by online sources. By traditional media standards, Kotylak wouldn’t have been named because at 17-years-old, he’s still a minor.

Since his identification, he and his family have been threatened, they have relocated to an undisclosed location, and his father (a surgeon) had to temporarily close down his medical practice.

Now, the young Kotylak applied in court to officially come out to the public. He then made a tearful apology (seen in the embedded video below).

However, Canadians interviewed by the Global Edmonton aren’t showing much sympathy to the apologetic Kotylak.

“He’s a representative of the community. What did he do? He did a big crime. That’s wrong,” said one Canadian.

“I don’t know if his apology is enough…It’s definitely a serious offense,” said another.

Kotylak is a star water polo player who has dreams of playing in the Olympics one day. Now, he has been provisionally suspended from the Canadian junior national water polo team.

Below are a video clip and the full text of Kotylak’s apology:

My name is Nathan. I apologize for having to read this statement, but I am very nervous and I have many things that I need to say, and I do not want to forget anything.

I’m 17 years old. On Wednesday night I went to Vancouver to join the thousands of other people that were hoping to be part of a great Stanley Cup celebration, not a riot. After the game some people in the crowd started to get out of control, and at that moment I made some very bad decisions, ones that I now have to live up to. For reasons I can’t really explain, I went from being a spectator to becoming part of the mob mentality that swept through many members of the crowd.

I could have turned myself in quietly and taken shelter as a Young Offender, but I asked my father to make it possible for me to speak today and have my name revealed.

First, I want to say as clearly as I can that there is no excuse for my behaviour. It does not reflect the values that my family and community raised me to live by. In a moment, I acted in a way that is an embarrassment to my family, my school, my community, the Vancouver Canucks and the City of Vancouver. I am truly ashamed of what I did.

Second, I want to also state very clearly that I recognize that I need to atone for what I did. My life took a very bad turn on Wednesday night based on choices I made. Now I must face the consequences. I did not attend my High School convocation yesterday because I did not want to detract from this special day that my classmates and I have worked towards all our lives. My actions have resulted in me being provisionally suspended from participation in the National Water Polo program. I know that I will also be facing charges in court. I’m not looking for any sympathy, I just want to make sure that people know that there have already been serious consequences, and I anticipate there will be more.

The third thing I want to do is start taking responsibility for what I did. I would like to send a message to other people that were involved in the incident on Wednesday Night to take responsibility for their actions and do the right thing. The people that came into Vancouver and volunteered to clean up the damage made by the mob reflect the true spirit of our community. I am embarrassed and remorseful that my actions have damaged the reputation of this great City and Province.

Next I want to apologize for my behaviour as my actions do not reflect who I want to be. I want to apologize to my teachers, fellow students, teammates and the community that I live in. My conduct does not reflect the education and support that I have been given by all of you. I also want to apologize to the Vancouver Canucks organization. What happened on Wednesday night took the spotlight away from the Canucks and the Boston Bruins. They are champions and worked very hard to get to that moment. I am so sorry that I was part of ruining that night. I also want to apologize to the citizens of the City of Vancouver and the Police. My actions do not reflect the respect I have for this great City or the Police

Finally, I want to apologize to my mom and dad. What I did does not reflect the love, values, lessons and great opportunities that you have provided for me. I am very sorry to bring this embarrassment on you.

As I said, I chose to waive the protection my age gives me with as a Young Offender because I wanted to own up to what I did and encourage other young people to do the same. What I did was dumb. I have let my family and friends down, and I will face the consequences and take responsibility for my actions.