Montreal

Enchanting through burlesque to raise funds for Standing Rock

A Montreal Mohawk woman is hoping to harness the entrancing power of burlesque to raise funds for a cause close to her heart, the fight against the Dakota Access pipeline.

Proceeds from Montreal event, Indecent for the Indigenous, to go to protesters in North Dakota

Lauren Jiles, who goes by Lou Lou la Duchess de Rière, has been a burlesque dancer for 11 years. She is performing tonight at Indecent for the Indigenous, an event she co-produced that is doubling as a fundraiser for protesters at Standing Rock. (Marisa Parisella)

A Montreal Mohawk woman is hoping to harness the entrancing power of burlesque to raise funds for a cause close to her heart, the fight against the Dakota Access pipeline.

Lauren Jiles, who goes by Lou Lou la Duchess de Rière, is co-producing and performing at tonight's Indecent for the Indigenous, a night of burlesque, boylesque (male dancers) and First Nations dance.

Proceeds from the event will go to the Sioux of Standing Rock, who have been fighting against the $3.8-billion Dakota Access pipeline project that was supposed to go through ancestral lands until it was halted last month.

Jiles, who has been a burlesque dancer for 11 years, said she was determined to make sure the show featured primarily First Nations women.

And while she says there aren't many First Nations people involved in the burlesque scene, especially on the East Coast, she was able to find two women — one from Ottawa and one from Syracuse, New York — to perform.

Also performing will be two Montreal-based pow-wow dancers.

An audience in the palm of your hand

Jiles grew up loving musical theatre, but after university didn't have time to do it anymore.

A friend suggested she try burlesque because it has everything she loves — music, dancing, costumes and theatre. So she did, and loved the rush it gave her.

"When you're on stage you have the audience in the palm of your hand, but I've never had it like that where you just remove a glove and people are like 'gasp,'" she said.

Pipeline decision not a done deal

Just as the venue was booked and the date set for Jiles' event, the Obama administration announced it was stopping construction of the controversial Dakota pipeline.

But Jiles pointed out that ruling may not hold after the Trump administration takes over. She also noted that some protesters at Standing Rock have incurred legal and medical fees they can't afford.

Fireworks explode above the Oceti Sakowin camp after the Obama administration announced it will not allow the four-state, $3.8-billion pipeline to be built under Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

It's a situation in flux, but she said there is something beautiful about what the protesters have been doing.

"Knowing you're in a period of time that is historical and watching people bring about change, it's very inspiring," she said.


Indecent for the Indigenous takes place Friday, Jan. 6 at the Wiggle Room, 3874 St-Laurent Boulevard. Show starts at 9 p.m., tickets cost $24.80 and can be bought online.

with files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak

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