Millennium Gate Lions
Floral Installation, June 2020
"To action love”
As we know, a much overdue, wild stirring for justice caught the attention of this otherwise-cushy western world last year. Something broke- something that needed to. However, here in Vancouver, it initially felt as if we were picking up the movement of America and not addressing the entirety of our own wrongdoings. This move of justice for the oppressed needed to grow eyes for *all* our communities that have long-endured systemic racism.
Parallel with Covid-19 making its presence in B.C. a year ago, already-existing aggressions toward the Asian (& specifically Chinese) community rose sharply. Along with physical attacks of violence against several community members (incl. young females and the elderly), there was repeated racist graffiti on family-sponsored park benches, and on these Millennium Gate Lions in Chinatown, Vancouver. This violent scapegoating wasn’t given nearly any media coverage.
So, in June, prompted by yet another vandalism of the Lions, an idea sparked. A small team and a plan came together overnight. Working with what we had, which honestly felt too little, by the next afternoon we were adorning the Lions in florals. Red and yellow were chosen as the focus colours- to represent joy and vitality, power and royalty. I wanted to be clear in our message- that though hate may exist, it cannot overcome the richness of this culture- the distinct beauty of tradition and honour and celebration in this culture.
The intent was to be in-and-out, working as discreetly as possible. What we did not expect were the countless people who paused while passing- to inquire, and then, for some, to stay and share their thanks, or offer their help. We ended up making friends, hearing stories, and at the end of the day, eating a gifted dinner at the table of a new friend.
The tearful hugs shared on this day humbled me to my core, and will be remembered for a very long time. It’s hard to not expand here and share all the stories that were told. Ultimately, it was a reminder that this "linking of arms" and "standing in" needs to become far more the norm, until there is no more need.
It is so important that we are moving in our physical spaces, not just running as yet another “social media activist”. In my faith, there’s a scripture that says “Faith without works is dead”. I would like to expand that so it’s applicable for everyone here, and say “Love without hands and feet is dead”. Much can be done with even with what little we have. Brainstorm an action, write it down. And go do it.
We did not initially intend to document this project, so the majority of the above photos are gifted from passersby who kindly wanted to photograph.