Dancers in red protest Trans Mountain pipeline expansion
Kamloops group drew inspiration from performers at Extinction Rebellion protests in the U.K.
Seven dancers dressed in crimson robes with their faces painted white, theatrically protested the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline outside of a storage yard containing materials for the pipeline in Kamloops on Monday.
Members of the Red Brigade group moved slowly, funeral procession-style, on Mission Flats Road outside of the storage facility in the southern Interior city, dramatically portraying emotions such as sadness and victory.
"We had a set list of emotions that we went through: grief about the species that are dying every day, love for our planet, sorrow for what might happen and victory that we hope to have, and so we moved through that set together," explained organizer Katie Welch, a music teacher and former belly dancer.
"It was easy to feel the grief and the hope that this project would not go ahead while we were standing out there with big trucks rumbling by and 10 football fields worth of pipeline in a field behind us."
Welch modelled the dance-style protest after the one the Red Brigade group in the United Kingdom does at Extinction Rebellion marches.
Extinction Rebellion is a movement that started in the U.K. last year, but made international headlines in April when climate change activists disrupted traffic for 11 days in central London, leading to more than 1,000 arrests.
Welch's noon dance protest coincided with an Extinction Rebellion protest that happened on the Burrard Street Bridge in Vancouver Monday morning, along with several others across Canada which blocked traffic on major bridges.
Making images of feelings
About 15 to 20 people came to support the dancers as they performed their set, said Welch.
"We all felt really moved by the experience. We felt that we had done something ... on a small level for ourselves instead of sitting and worrying and feeling panicky about climate change at home," she told Daybreak Kamloops' Jenifer Norwell.
"We felt that we created a visual image of of how we were feeling about our climate."
Welch chose to protest the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project because she is concerned about the effect the twinning of the pipeline will have on increasing carbon emissions.
She thinks their dramatic performance will help increase public consciousness around the matter.
However, not everyone was supportive of their demonstration. The protesters faced a lot of heckling, said Welch.
"It makes me sad and I really understand people's fear because you know, I know that they're worried about putting food on the table, they're worried about jobs and they're worried that the status quo is going to change," she said.
"I think it's important for us to say that it's not a black and white ... most people understand that petroleum is not going to go away tomorrow. So I think that's a good message to get out there."
Instead, she said it's about transitioning to a greener economy.
"It might look extreme the protest, but it's just to raise awareness that we have to make a change."
With files from Jenifer Norwell and Daybreak Kamloops