There once was a time when people gathered in the front of the Elijah Smith Building for all kinds of reasons: hacky-sack and skateboarding, conversation, protest, art and social media displays.
In the last while, the Elijah Smith Building has become decidedly unfriendly.
When my organization Ã Blood Ties Four Directions Centre Ã tried to have a hepatitis awareness display at the Elijah Smith Building, we were met with closed doors both inside and out.
We originally wanted to hold a hepatitis C photo installation in the foyer of the building.
We were met with a sea of bureaucratic red tape and an absent “real person” in which to help us negotiate the “new” landscape. So we decided to host our display outside instead. Our photos were mounted on the posts and railings in front of the building and that’s when things got ugly.
On May 19th, World Hepatitis Day, the commissioners of the Elijah Smith Building tore down the photo installation Ã it didn’t even hang for two hours. We went back on Friday at lunch to hang our photos for one hour and to hand out information to passersby about hepatitis.
The commissioners tore down the photo installation and kicked us off the property.
We were told that we couldn’t stand there and hold the signs, or stand in front of the building to hand out awareness information, and we were also informed that we were not allowed to protest in front of the building.
Wait a sec … not allowed to protest in front of the Elijah Smith Building?
Is this really my Yukon?
Is this really our federal building?
When we didn’t pick up our signs and sweaters that were lying down while we handed out our hepatitis “swag”, the commissioners threatened to call the RCMP.
Wait a sec Ã‰ the RCMP were being called for a couple of sweaters and some signs on the ground in front of the building while Blood Ties peacefully handed out hepatitis awareness info?
That’s right. This is our Yukon now. Thought you’d like to know.
Patricia Bacon, executive director
Blood Ties Four Directions Centre