Thirty-one people gathered on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery at noon on Thursday to protest for the rights of indigenous peoples.
Co-organizer Erika Ram stood 12 feet above ground and announced the group’s mission statement through a megaphone. Everyone in the group raised their hands in solidarity, occasionally repeating after the speaker.
In a pre-event interview, co-organizer Jenny Karnjanavijaya told Digital Journal, “Sept. 13th is the fifth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous People’s Rights. We wanted to put something together to raise awareness on issues indigenous peoples still face. Everyone knows, I hope, about indigenous rights to a certain degree. I hope our display out there will perk people’s attention even more, especially the passersby, who may not know much.”
Karnjanavijaya and Ram had made the flash mob their protest of choice because they wanted to approach the idea in a “creative” and “eye-catching” way without being negative.
Although short, the flash mob appeared to serve its purpose. Virtually everyone who strolled by stopped to look; some even took a front-row seat.
“It was good to meet other people who are involved”, said Lana Friesen, a participant of the flash mob. “Raising the issues to passersby might even be a primer to getting them to come out to future events.”
On what the average person can do to contribute, Ram advises, “Take the message and spread it. When people start getting involved and show they care, we will see more of it in the media, and maybe lawmakers will start to pay attention too. Yes, signing petitions and writing letters can help, but it’s also about creating a conversation around the issues.”