Housing activists experimented with a novel protest strategy Saturday: they attempted to set a Guinness World Record while raising awareness of national housing issues.
Supporters of the Red Tent Campaign gathered in downtown Vancouver to wrap 1,700 metres of red banners around the block surrounding the Canada Pavilion on West Georgia and Beatty.
John Richardson, the Executive Director of the Pivot Legal Society, told ctvbc.ca that the group hoped to set a Guinness World Record for the longest banner wrap.
While a record for the longest banner wrap does not exist, Guinness World Records has agreed to review documentation about the event for a possible world record, Richardson said.
The banners featured slogans calling on Stephen Harper, the government and the Canadian public to support the Red Tent Campaign, a national movement initiated by Pivot which seeks to end homelessness.
The protesters hope to increase support for Bill C-304, which will be reviewed by Parliament in the spring. The bill would establish a constitutional right to housing in Canada, while providing the foundation for a national housing strategy with funding commitments and timelines.
“[The Bill] would be the beginning of the end of homelessness,” said Richardson, who explained that actions taken during the Olympics simply constitute the beginning of the actions that the Red Tent Campaign has planned.
Local activists are not the only ones who are critical of the government’s policies.
The banners featured a quote from Miloon Kothari, a Special Rapporteur to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, who said that Canada should “commit to a comprehensive national housing strategy with stable and long-term funding.”
Police officers with bikes and public observers from the B.C. Civil Liberties Association stood on the street corners and walked around the block monitoring the quiet protest. Approximately 100 protesters were involved, according to Vancouver Police Const. Keras Iotis.
Kate Cercomb, a 50-year-old Vancouverite concerned about housing issues, stood by holding up a Canadian flag as she showed her support for the protesters.
Am Johal, a Media Coordinator for the Red Tent Campaign, hopes that peaceful events like this one will help increase public support. He believes the campaign “taps into Canadians’ general sense of patriotism and support for a longstanding social issue.”