Holiday shoppers were taken by surprise by flash-mob performances advocating for the protection of old-growth trees.
Elders for Ancient Trees staged flash mobs on Dec. 1, starting at the Bay Centre before hitting the Mayfair and Hillside shopping centres.
At the Bay Centre, participants moved to a rendition of Stop! In The Name of Love, that included the new lyrics “stop, in the name of love, before you cut the trees.”
Following the dance, a chorus of O Christmas Tree rang through the centre, with lyrics of “oh mother tree, oh mother tree, we honour you this season.”
Jan Johnston, a member of Elders for Ancient Trees, said the group works to lobby the government to protect old growth from logging and raise awareness about the downsides of old growth removal.
“Basically, our objective is to save the old growth as much as we can, and to make people aware of what’s going on up there because it’s devastating,” she said. “We’ve been very active with lobbying the government, and doing actions to try and bring awareness about the impending disaster if we lose all our old-growth trees.”
Bill Johnston, another participant and organizer for Elders for Ancient Trees, said that while it is important work to save old growth, it’s also important to have fun at times, which is why they chose to do a flash-mob performance.
Johnston said it is important that the group reach new audiences that might not be aware of old-growth logging, as well as those who might think that logging has stopped.
The event was created with the hope of conveying the message at a time when the government is transitioning to a new premier, but while keeping with the spirit of the season.
With local malls beginning to fill up with holiday shoppers marking gifts off their lists, the group thought performing in those locations would be a great way to get attention. Nearly 30 people, mostly seniors, participated.
The performances were led by Amalia Schelhorn, who danced for the National Ballet of Canada, as well as Garry Relyea and Ann Relyea, performers with the Canadian Opera Company.
In April 2020, the B.C. government released a report with 14 recommendations for changing the way old-growth forests are treated, but environmental groups like the Elders for Ancient Trees say they aren’t following through and old trees continue to fall.