Pregnant Indigenous woman grabbed, detained at Calgary Multicultural GlobalFest
Lisa J. Ellwood
A pregnant Indigenous woman was forcibly detained and prevented from re-entering the stage area by security guards even though she had just been a performer in the onstage production of TRUTH at Calgary’s Multicultural GlobalFest Fireworks Festival on Thursday, August 16. Additionally, an eight-year-old child was roughly handled by the volunteer security guards. Livestreamed videos of the incident went viral on Facebook.
There has been no apology or comment from GlobalFest organizers. The cast and director of TRUTH have decided to end their associations with GlobalFest as a result of the unresolved conflicts with the organization.
32 year-old Shalome Hope, Thunderchild First Nation and Métis, had stepped away from the main stage and attempted to reunite with her multi-genre theatrical group after their GlobalFest Fireworks Festival performance. Though she is eight months pregnant, she was physically prevented from entering the VIP area.
30 year-old Thomas Snow, îyarheh Nakoda Sioux Nation / Stoney First Nation, a partner to Hope explained. “My son and I were waiting outside the fence for my pregnant partner Shalome Hope. She had just finished a performance on the main stage titled TRUTH. She was taking photographs with friends and fellow cast members inside the VIP fence area.”
“Finishing the photos, she came over to give our son a kiss and a hug. Her cast members started to walk towards the VIP area for a meeting following the performance. She began to walk towards the group and the security guard moved to block her way. Shalome told me that she felt scared of the security guard.”
“I told Thomas that I was afraid of him and that I had better not take my son in my arms as he may assault me,” said Hope.
Snow said his partner and show performers had also witnessed an eight-year-old son of another Indigenous cast member being physically removed from the area by the same security guard. The child screamed to the security guard “that is my mom!” to avoid being detained.
“The guards first words to me were ‘you’re not supposed to be here, are you?’, and he reached out for my arm. I told him ‘yes, I am, and don’t you touch me, I saw what you did to that little boy.’ At this point I walked away only to be followed and blocked and reached for more times. I felt trapped, I was focused on rejoining my group who were taking photos for media, regrouping, etc. yet couldn't go back to the fence where my family were, with an unpredictable and physical attacker,” said Hope.
In the videos, the volunteer security guards claimed that Ms. Hope needed a VIP pass and it didn't matter that she had just been onstage and that the rest of her group were already in the VIP area waiting. Additionally, other attendees without passes had already been seen and videotaped being admitted into that particular location and without being checked.
“I yelled for Thomas, even though I knew he was holding our baby, I was at this point, a little bit panicked,” says Hope. “I did have a VIP pass, and was telling them about our performance and passes and cast and crew that were within eyesight during the entire harassment.”
Snow asked their friend Victoria Rose to record what was happening. Rose livestreamed the volunteer security guard manhandling Hope, who is eight months pregnant.
“Victoria and I began to let the guard know that she [Hope] was a performer trying to rejoin her group, but were ignored by the security and another who had joined to block her. Shalome stepped past the two guards and moved to rejoin her performance group,” says Snow.
“We asked the guard to come and began to speak with him. We repeatedly asked to speak to a supervisor and were denied outright with a ‘no’ and not given further information. Another guard present did not interject or confirm that a supervisor was on the way and both guards turned their passes over to hide their names. More guards began to appear in the background as we continued to ask to speak to a supervisor.”
A supervisor arrived, and joined the guards in stating Hope neede an all-access pass. Others confirmed they were allowed to enter without the pass or even a wristband.
“The supervisor repeatedly tried to take us to a secluded area privately, however given the treatment we had received, we declined and opted in favour of having our friends present who were recording and supporting us.”
Derangé gave his own similar account of these events to ICT via Facebook Messenger and added, “I also addressed the security guard and said, ‘you made a mistake; we all make mistakes, we’re all human, and now we’re asking you to apologize’. He said no.”
“GlobalFest is presented as a diverse and inclusive space, which really makes the harmful actions of these global fest staff and volunteers alarming and especially unsafe,” says Hope. “More terrible, the harm is excused and protected even more rigidly the further it is brought to GlobalFest’s attention. We are yet to hear back from organizers.”
Per the GlobalFest website, the organization is a not-for-profit society dedicated to celebrating and showcasing Calgary’s cultural diversity and artistic excellence within its communities locally and across the globe. They are committed to producing an inclusive, world-class, multi-faceted arts and cultural festival that will enhance Alberta’s reputation as a truly international destination.
They have not replied to ICT's repeated inquiries for comment.
Videos of the altercation posted to Facebook
TRUTH cast. Photo courtesy of Shalome Hope.
Videos of the performers on Stage
Separation from GlobalFest
“We are separating from GlobalFest, and going to be carrying the messages in a different way,” says Hope. “We have the support of our director Rebecca Dawn, who is also ending a five-year career with the organization [as their Human Rights Forum Director]”.
“We will likely visit schools with our performance about TRUTH and how to begin in a proper way, to seek ‘reconciliation’... or the actual goals of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action."
Follow ICT Correspondent Lisa J. Ellwood on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/IconicImagery