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Ghana wild for Vancouver

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

It was 4:49 a.m. Wednesday morning when Shannen O'Brian's cell phone buzzed.

Then it buzzed again. Then again. Then again.

Buzz. Buzz. Buzz.

Prying her eyes open just enough to read the texts but not be blinded by the glow of her phone, O’Brian was wide awake in a heartbeat and happier than anyone in Ghana, a country of nearly 25 million people in West Africa.

O’Brian had just been told, again again to her delight, that the Vancouver Canucks were moving on to the Stanley Cup Final.

The 29-year-old then overcame the joyous state she was in and forced herself back to sleep. No time to celebrate with a full day of work beginning in a few short hours.

O’Brian is the founder and executive director of Create Change, a Canadian non-profit organization providing water and education to those living without in northern Ghana.

For the past four-and-a-half years O’Brian, a Vancouverite, has traveled back and forth between her home in BC and her home in Africa trying to make a grassroots difference to those who truly need it.

Her main focus is supporting female education and Create Change is currently helping over 800 girls attend high school and university every year, 800 girls who would normally not have access to this education and would likely be married with children at a young age.

O’Brian, who holds a BA in International Development and Masters Degree in Human Rights and works as an administrator, accountant, field manager, field staff, web designer, graphic designer, camera person, film editor, musician and fundraiser for Create Change, also supports primary schools in Ghana.

At a recent thank you ceremony for donors at Vitting Primary School, O’Brian thought it would be great to show the Canucks some support. Two videographers are currently working alongside O’Brian on a few projects and one of them was at Rogers Arena for Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal versus the Chicago Blackhawks, where he took home a Canucks Playoff Towel.

Adorable kids, amazing enthusiasm, a playoff towel, video camera and a chant: GO CANUCKS GO.

“It’s our small contribution to being fans on the other side of the world,” said O’Brian, one of three British Columbians currently with Create Change in Ghana.

“We’re all so sad that we’re not home for this amazing thing that’s going on, so we wanted to do something supportive for the team with all the kids out here that have really benefited from the generosity of people in Vancouver.”

The video ends with: West Africa is cheering for you. If you listen closely enough, you can probably still hear the kids chanting for the Canucks.

“The kids love getting involved with something and they were so happy, you can see it. Once they start chanting something, it’s actually really hard to make them stop. We got on the motorbike and were driving away and we could still hear it for ages.”

The big sport in Ghana is soccer, but thanks to O’Brian, Canucks spirit is alive and well with fans that have never even picked up a hockey stick, let alone seen a game. Still, the kids are very competitive and passionate and when they get behind something, they truly get behind it.

“They all love Vancouver because so many people from Vancouver are making big changes here, that’s really where their excitement for supporting the Canucks came from.”

Click here to learn more about O’Brian and Create Change.

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