Irony lost on freedom rally organizers

The art gallery board takes exception to protesters blocking customers from entering artisan shop


As reported last this week, there was a large rally held in the parking lot of the Central Park Building on Dec. 12.

While organizers stated the main goal of the event was to highlight the impact of current restrictions on businesses, participants stood on the sidewalk, courtyard and parking lot of one local, non-profit organization which prevented customers from entering their Artisan shop.

Artists and artisans have been hard hit during the pandemic, as craft fairs and other events were closed. The Smithers Art Gallery hosts an Artisan Christmas shop every year at this time and this year has over 60 Smithers and Bulkley Valley participants who rely on Christmas sales to provide for their families.

The gallery manager asked the 30 to 50 un-masked protesters, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, to move from in front of the Central Park Building to one of the other three corners of the intersection that do not have businesses located on them. Speaker Rod Taylor stated they could stand where they want and people could walk around them.

The protesters stood in front of the gallery for over two hours on the second last Saturday before Christmas – a vital day of sales for vendors. During the protest only five customers came into the gallery with one stating she was jeered at for wearing a mask. Once protesters left, there was a dramatic increase in customers and sales.

Bulkley Valley artists and artisans were negatively impacted last weekend by protesters claiming to be on the side of businesses and locals. Participants should reflect on whether their right to assemble supersedes the rights of community members to earn a living.

– Smithers Art Gallery Board