Two climate action groups took to downtown Vancouver Friday to protest the excess consumerism encouraged by Black Friday sales in the city and worldwide.
Three individuals were arrested as the anti-consumerism rallies caused congestion and delays downtown into the early evening. Vancouver police declined to provide further information on the arrests.
One protest was led by Sustainabiliteens, the group that has staged many of Vancouver’s Fridays for Future climate strikes and welcomed climate activist Greta Thunberg to the city last month. At this Friday’s protest, dubbed Futurefest, the group celebrated alternatives to consumerism, staging a flash mob in the mall and a free clothing swap in the plaza outside Vancouver City Centre Station.
“We are here to take a stand against Black Friday: a symbol of the unchecked consumerism that fuels the climate crisis,” said spokesperson Sam Lin. “We aren’t blaming individuals for needing to buy things — instead, we’re creating our own alternatives to this wasteful, unsustainable system.
“Dancing in the mall and in the street is a zero-cost, zero-carbon source of joy. We’re demonstrating what a sustainable world can look like: full of joy like this.”
Futurefest also included several open-mic speeches, a hot chocolate social, and a round dance led by Idle No More organizers outside Pacific Centre.
“The round dance represents unity and healing, and the beat of the drum represents the heartbeat of the community,” said Idle No More organizer Casey Desjarlais. “Together we gather to create a circle of strength, inviting one another to participate in the building of a healthy environment for us all.”
Another group, Extinction Rebellion, hosted a Funeral for Extinction — a march through Vancouver malls and streets to take a stand against rampant consumerism, and to mourn the extinction of species.
“Nov. 29 is Black Friday. On this day, huge corporations exploit consumers by encouraging us to buy more and more. Their ‘special offers”’ trigger a sense of urgency and ‘exceptional opportunity’ to consumers, resulting in an overconsumption of unnecessary goods,” the group, which also goes by XR, states on its Facebook page.
“We will mourn for the future of our planet, our ecosystems, and the lives lost due to climate crisis, human and non-human,” XR said.
Participants were invited to wear funeral attire to the event, which began at 1 p.m. at Art Phillips Park on Burrard Street.
The march concluded at Robson and Burrard, where Extinction Rebellion shut down the intersection for a post-funeral wake that included a garment repair station, screen printing activities, clothing swap and live performances.
Similar protests were held in other cities around the world, including London, Melbourne, and New York.
-With files from Stephanie Ip, Harrison Mooney