First Nations plan to crash yoga party on Vancouver’s Burrard Bridge

VANCOUVER - First Nations groups are planning to crash the provincial government’s yoga party on the bridge next weekend in Vancouver.

The Om The Bridge event, which will close down the Burrard Bridge for several hours on June 21, is aimed at celebrating International Day of Yoga. But it also coincides with National Aboriginal Day, and groups unhappy with that are asking people to protest the event.

Several pages have been set up on social media calling for a peaceful disruption of the mass yoga class with signs, singing and drumming.

“Be an ally on National Aboriginal Day. Hold space for Indigenous people, who continue to be systemically ignored, by crashing (Premier) Christy Clark’s yoga party,” one organizer wrote on Facebook.

Clark announced the event, which is sponsored by Lululemon Athletica, YYoga, and AltaGas, last week, inviting yogis from across B.C. to roll out their mats and strike a pose on the Burrard Bridge for the International Day of Yoga.

Clark said yoga has become part of the “cultural fabric in B.C.” and said the event, which also coincides with Summer Solstice and Father’s Day, was aimed at celebrating the practice and having fun.

In a response to the mounting criticism, Clark posted a lighthearted tweet Thursday: “Hey yoga haters — bet you can’t wait for International Tai Chi Day,” and posted a photo of herself on Twitter in front of a Tai Chi centre.

Responding to questions about the comment in Victoria, Clark said it was a joke.

“That was a bit of self deprecating humour,” she said. “We are celebrating National Aboriginal Day, absolutely we are. We’re also celebrating Father’s Day in my household and we’re also celebrating the United Nations day that was designated for International Yoga Day. Thousands of people practice yoga in British Columbia and find real peace in it ... It’s a busy day, no question about it.”

The premier questioned whether the same people would be complaining if the bridge was shut down for a ball hockey tournament or a marathon.

“Yoga is a huge part of people’s lives here.”

The bridge will be closed to traffic between 4 a.m. and 11 a.m. A stretch begins at 8:30 a.m. followed by an hour-long yoga class.

Meantime, kids’ singer and songwriter Raffi Cavoukian also has voiced opposition on social media, and is encouraging people to use the hashtag #shunthebridge on Twitter. Critics of the event are also opposed to the bridge closure, and the estimated $150,000 cost to taxpayers.

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