Red braid pro-choice rally, scream choir, set for Tuesday on P.E.I.

Published on March 7, 2016

Rally poster.

Organizers asking participants to wear red braids, black bandanas of anonymous “iamkarats” artist

A coalition of pro-choice groups will rally for abortion access in P.E.I. Tuesday wearing red braids and black bandanas, mimicking a pro-choice poster campaign featuring a likeness of Anne of Green Gables.

The march, say organizers, is a response to the ongoing lack of access to in-province abortion care. P.E.I. women seeking abortion services are required to travel off-Island to Moncton or Halifax.

The march begins at 4 p.m. Tuesday on Kent Street between Upper Great George and Queen streets.

"To voice the mass disapproval of PEI’s lack of abortion services, and to challenge the reluctance of PEI’s patriarchal politicians on the issue of abortion access, we will be marching from the Liberal Party headquarters on Kent Street to the Gentleman’s Club on the corner of King and Great George," says a statement on the web page of the Revolutionary Communist Party.

"This Gentleman’s Club is a symbol of the patriarchal capitalist values of PEI’s political 'leaders,' and is also the place in which the real political decisions are made, away from the influence of both official policies and the masses," said the statement.

"At 5:00 pm everyone is also invited to The Guild, on the corner of Queen St and Richmond St, for the reception for International Women’s Day," said the statement.

“This rally is a creative response to a deeply troubling issue,” says Becka Viau, the group’s spokesperson.

“Public demonstrations historically use artistic expression to illuminate archaic, oppressive systems.”

The organizers are encouraging participants to wear the red braids and black bandanas of the anonymous “iamkarats” artist.

The “iamkarats” poster and social media campaign has garnered local and national media attention due the image’s resemblance to P.E.I.’s iconic redhead, Anne Shirley.

Aside from the dress code, organizers have some creative actions planned, including a scream choir, which is a protest performance art piece.

“The choir is made up of people who perform tonal primal screams, a symbol of the cathartic release of pent up rage against the policies that bring continued obstacles and suffering to women," says Russell Louder, a local artist who will be conducting the choir.

The rally is being held in recognition of International Women’s Day.

"This is one in a series of actions calling attention to the provincial government's policy of restricting access to abortion," says Josie Baker of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada.

"Access to on-Island abortion would be less expensive than paying for the service off-Island and does not require expertise or equipment that we do not already have. The policy violates women’s rights under the charter of Rights and Freedoms."

In January, the pro-choice group, Abortion Access Now P.E.I., launched a court action against the province, claiming the province has not met the standard for providing service to Island women for on-Island abortions.