Idle No More activists join Michelle Thrush on Stephen Avenue to hug 100 people
Joined by Idle No More activists, Calgary-based Cree actress and television star Michelle Thrush hugged 100 people on Hug A Non-Native Day on Stephen Avenue on Wednesday.
The action was another small step towards ending racism in Canada, according to Thrush.
From noon until 1 p.m. the star of Northern Exposure and North of 60 was in Calgary alongside Idle No More organizers Autumn EagleSpeaker and Kimberly Weaselfat as part of the Idle No More movement to challenge prejudice.
Thrush told The Beacon News that the response of strangers was amazing.
“If they were open I would give them a real hug, not a quick pat on the back kind of hug but really embrace them and shine love into that moment,” Thrush said.
Thrush said that the hug was intended to demonstrate that indigenous people are inclusive of all Canadians.
“This whole thing going on right now is not us against you, it’s a human issue,” Thrush said.
“If this was sufficient they would smile and carry in, if they wanted more about c45 and Idle No More I would send them to the girls. If they wanted to just talk, we did.”
“We are all human beings and in order to end racism we need to talk, ask questions and be able to look at each other with compassion.”
Earlier in the day Thrush visited her daughter’s Grade 5 class and asked the teacher if she could talk to the students about her performance piece.
“I asked the kids to write messages on the backs of Valentine’s and they wrote messages of what they wanted to see in a world free of racism,” Thrush said. ”No wars, colour-free judgment and peace.”
When asked about the reaction of the people she hugged about racism in Canada, Thrush said that they agreed that it was getting carried away.
“There were those that named a certain media outlet that was perpetuating the racism and they refused to read that paper anymore and I did not meet anyone that was rude or mean,” Thrush said.
“I had a few grumpy faces that did not want anyone in their personal bubble and I got that and respected it. But the vast majority wanted a hug and they wanted to speak and ask questions.
When asked whether HANND was just a one-time event or if she wanted to do it regularly, Thrush said: “Love, just like imagination, has no limits or boundaries. I am sure this will not be the last you hear of me on racism though. I am sure I will continue using my voice and art to create change and lessen the gap of division.”
Thrush was on her way to Banff to start her next project “The Making Of Treaty Seven” which has been in the works for a year with Calgary 2012.
“We will be doing shows in the last week of February,” Thrush said.
“The ladies here had such a great time yesterday that I think they do want to carry it on without me here and so be it.”
Autumn EagleSpeaker, an Idle No More activist, was in attendance to provide information and facts about the Idle No More movement.
“We were welcomed down by Michelle Thrush to spread a message of love to all the non-aboriginal people, to overcome racism and negative stereotypes that have been so prevalent in the media,” EagleSpeaker said.
“We were spreading the love through hugs.”
“The people that received the hugs had mixed emotions; some were apprehensive at first, but as soon as they felt that embrace their bodies softened and hugged back. Many said thank you.”
As far as spreading the sidewalk hugging to other cities, Autumn EagleSpeaker was hopeful.
“I think just how Michelle’s previous event ‘Putting a death to racism’ spread across Canada to protest at Sun Media stations, that this event will too, mainly because it is so positive,” EagleSpeaker said.
“Spreading Love is a great way to show others we are all human beings.”
Idle No More is also planning to host Calgary’s first Red Mile Glow Stick Flash Mob Round Dance & Rally in conjunction with the one billion rising campaign at 7 p.m. on Feb. 14. The focus will be on ending the violence in the Aboriginal communities.
Category: First Nations