Miming the mining message

By 
  • November 9, 2007

Theatre2.jpgTORONTO - Student actors took to the streets in Toronto, Ottawa, Peterborough and Edmonton in late October and early November to raise awareness about the need to regulate Canadian mining practices abroad.

The performances happened just after the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace had delivered 150,000 postcards urging the federal government to have Canadian mining companies apply the same standards of practice abroad as they do domestically.

At the intersection of Yonge and Bloor Streets in Toronto about 25 people held banners, put up flyers and got pedestrians to sign more postcards on Oct. 27, while actors portrayed three tableaus depicting environmental degradation, unsafe mining practices and the negative impact mining can have on the local community.

{sidebar id=1} About 100 people signed the petition in under an hour. Most passersby were supportive with only a few exceptions, said actor Sarah Dauk.

“A guy stopped and watched and said, ‘if you don’t like it don’t work in the mine.’ I thought that was surprising that it was the only negative comment I heard,” said Dauk, an intern at Development and Peace headquarters in Toronto.

Street theatre is a very creative and engaging way to reach people, said Lori Ryan, Development and Peace youth programs co-ordinator.

“It tries to put a face on the issues we’re trying to draw attention to,” she said. “Sometimes it’s easy to ignore print material, but people are engaged by the dramatization of it.

“Also, it’s a recognition that Development and Peace needs to be in the world, not just in our parishes, but also in the streets of Canada, talking to our neighbours.”

Other Development and Peace chapters held similar events. While Trent University in Peterborough doesn’t have an official chapter, Adam Henley co-ordinated a street theatre workshop before the outdoor performance on Nov. 3.

“My goal is to go beyond the Catholic population and spread some of our organizational values,” said Henley, a third-year nursing student at Trent and the national English youth representative for education programs.

“Street theatre is based on non-oppression and collaborating together. It’s about identifying your message and working on it together.”

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