Canada, Stand Up for the Oppressed!

Relaxing after the pride? Not for Highway Liberty, not for KyivPride Canada. Today, on July 4, 2015, we got together once more to sort of celebrate the Independence Day with a creative performance opposite the Russian Consulate General at 175 Bloor St. E., and to reiterate our strong disagreement with the current Russian divide-and-rule politics of homophobia and war-mongering. The idea of the performance plot was co-authored by Highway Liberty and Ukrainian LGBT activist Olena Semenova, and enacted by Highway Liberty volunteers.

Over and above the performance, HL continued collecting signatures under a petition to prevent Russia’s hosting of World Cup 2018. The petition is addressed to the World Cup chief sponsors (Visa, Budweiser, Hyundai, Kia and Sony), and by now we have collected several hundred signatures in all.

Our rally attracted the attention of at least one pro-Putin passer-by who engaged in a theological skirmish with some of our activists over the more fine points of the Putin propaganda and what is really meant by ‘Russia waging a just war in Ukraine protecting Russian-speakers there’ while ‘Russia has no boots on the ground in Ukraine’.

Our guest from Kyiv Pride Olena Semenova described the idea of the performance as follows: “The allegorical figures representing Peace, Freedom and Human Rights oppressed by Putin dressed in a blood-bespattered apron [played by Olena herself – HL], chained and about to be butchered by him, rise up and, with the help of some passers-by, literally overthrow Mr. Putin and trash him in a toxic waste container, where he belong, together with the other authoritarian leaders”.

Also, we were privileged to have, as a speaker, Chrystia Freeland, MP for the downtown Toronto riding.  Ch. Freeland has a name for supporting LGBT and also for being up on things Ukrainian and Russian. Chrystia speaks both languages and has a degree in Russian history and literature. Our line-up of speakers included activist and documentary director Michelle Emson, Olena Semenova, John and Katherine Vellinga (KyivPride Canada).

Photo credits: Shadab Shahrokh Hai

Video courtesy of Petro Dudka

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