Climate activists calling for an end to a gas pipeline project in northern British Columbia threw maple syrup at an Emily Carr painting and stuck to the wall of the Vancouver Art Gallery on Saturday.
A spokesperson for the environmental group Stop Fracking Around told The Canadian Press that two activists doused Carr’s “Stumps and Sky” painting, which is on display at the gallery, with maple syrup.
Don Marshall, speaking on behalf of the environmental group, said the protest action at the museum was aimed at drawing public attention to the global climate emergency.
He said protesters are demanding an end to the Coastal GasLink pipeline project, which is currently under construction from Dawson Creek to Kitimat on British Columbia’s north coast.
The pipeline has been a source of controversy in British Columbia for years and sparked nationwide protests and blockades in early 2020 in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en First Nation Hereditary Chiefs who oppose to the project.
Protests against the pipeline have continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including at a rally in Vancouver in August.
A construction site along the pipeline route was also the scene of a violent attack in February this year.
Although no anti-pipeline group has claimed responsibility for this incident, some politicians have sought to link it, as well as a recent arson attack in Smithers, British Columbia, involving several emergency vehicles – including cruisers from the RCMP – in opposition to Coastal GasLink.
Saturday’s incident at the art gallery fits into this context, as well as the recent climate protests in galleries and museums around the world.
Last month, activists from the Just Stop Oil group threw soup on Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ painting at the National Gallery in London, a move the group said was aimed at making people think about what has more value: a painting or the planet.
Marshall told The Canadian Press that protesters are targeting artwork around the world because too little is being done to halt the deadly advance of man-made climate change.
“It’s just about trying to get the public and especially our leaders to actually respond to the climate emergency declared by Canada,” Marshall said in an interview. “That’s the logic behind it all.”
A statement from Stop Fracking Around identified one of the art gallery protesters as 19-year-old Erin Fletcher, who the group said was “ready to be arrested” by the Vancouver Police Department.
“We are in a climate emergency,” Fletcher said in the statement.
“We take this action after Remembrance Day to remember the countless deaths that have taken place, and will continue to take place, due to the greed, corruption and incompetence of our leaders. When we exceed two degrees Celsius rise in global average temperatures, we are witnessing death and starvation on an unprecedented scale due to inaction on climate change.”
CTV News Vancouver has reached out to the VPD and the Vancouver Art Gallery for comment on Saturday’s protest. This story will be updated if a response is received.
With files from The Canadian Press