Friday, February 23, 2024

Here’s why protesters are bringing a procession of puppets to downtown Victoria this weekend


This Saturday, February 25th, VicPD is shutting down certain roads in downtown Victoria and installing CCTV cameras to allow for a peaceful protest procession for old growth forests in BC. 

The same group that recently received recognition for their ‘flash mob’ dances in downtown Victoria last week is leading this peaceful march to raise awareness for and demand government action for old-growth forest groves. 

The United We Stand for Old Growth march will be a kilometer long group of massive puppets, singers and dancers heading from Centennial Square to the BC Legislature.

The march is set to begin at noon and arrive at the Legislature around 1:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. 

United We Stand for Old Growth will be led by a group of Indigenous drummers who will guide an immense group of performers featuring the likes of master puppeteer Tim Gosley, who was worked on the iconic show Fraggle Rock; Amelia Schelhorn, a prima ballerina with the National Ballet and Gary Relyea, a semi-retired opera star. 

Many other local and renowned artists will be joining them in their quest to speak for the old growth forests who have no voice of their own. 

The Fraggle Rock puppeteer helped volunteers to create a 13’ tall ‘mother tree’ that will have its roots spread across Douglas Street as the performance protest makes its way to the Legislature. This mother tree will be followed by 50 other smaller trees suspended by tall poles and a group of small hand-painted woodland creatures.

(Mother tree puppet with owl – United for Old Growth)

There will be a 20’ stream of ribbon with eight dancers toting salmon arm puppets following the mother tree in the procession. Behind the makeshift river will be ocean creatures including a giant octopus, orca whales and more. 

“Artists try to see through to what is really important in life,” said Schelhorn, prima ballerina. “These ancient forests, which are disappearing before our eyes, are so essential to life on earth.”

“They moderate the climate, they provide habitat for all sorts of species found nowhere else in the world, they are nature’s cathedral.”

The path of the protest procession departing at noon along Douglas Street from Centennial Square to the Legislature grounds via Belleville Street.

Once at the Legislature grounds, a rally will begin at 1:30 p.m. 

The rally intends to highlight Indigenous voices and performances with local musician Sarah Osbourne making an appearance as well. 

Honoured to be sharing my heart & art for the trees at this rally for our Old Growth forest. Please come and support! xo

Posted by Sarah Osborne on Monday, February 20, 2023

Because this is a protest, VicPD will be blocking the roads so protesters and their puppets can safely travel to their rally destination. They will also be deploying CCTV cameras along the path of the protest. 

VicPD advises steering clear of Douglas Street on Saturday afternoon as it will be closed for the duration of the protest.

Curtis Blandy

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