A Vancouver woman charged with mischief after a disruption at the Juno Awards is unapologetic about her public protest that garnered headlines around the world.
Casey Hatherly, who goes by the name Ever, was arrested after interrupting Avril Lavigne’s speech during the high-profile event; the 37-year-old was topless, wearing pasties and had slogans for environmental causes such as “Stop logging old growth now” and “Save the green belt” scrawled on her body.
CBC News spoke with Hatherly on Wednesday outside of the Edmonton courthouse after her bail hearing. Her next court appearance is April 5.
She said she is part of a group called On To Ottawa that will go to the nation’s capital in April to demand a citizens’ assembly for climate action.
Hatherly, who had a ticket for the Junos, said she chose the awards show as a platform simply because of the international attention it would garner.
“We wanted to start off with a big bang, and I think we achieved that goal,” she said, adding that she chose to disrupt Lavigne “for the headline.”
“I low-key, in my heart of hearts, hoped that she would be punk rock, girl power, give me the mic or something, but I don’t think it could have gone any better,” she said.
Instead, Lavigne used expletives to tell Hatherly to get off the stage.
“That’s definitely going down as one of the highlights,” Lavigne said Monday night of the incident.
Hatherly said she chose to be topless because more people would click on a story about a topless protester than they would about an environmental activist.
“We created an international buzz, and even if people aren’t asking the right questions now, they will be,” she said.
“Everybody just saw a topless protester, but they’re looking now. It’s not an issue that people want to think about — climate disaster that we are currently experiencing here and all around the world.”
Questions about security at Junos
Questions have been raised about security at the awards show; Hatherly appeared to get on stage easily and was on stage for 30 seconds before security escorted her off.
“I just walked up there. It was so easy,” she said.
In a statement, the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which runs the Junos, said it takes “every step to avoid interruptions to our program.”
“But there are always risks with live events and broadcasts,” the statement reads.
CBC News asked whether there would be an investigation into how the protester got on stage and whether any changes would be made to security.
Organizers, in response, said they were not commenting further.
This is not the first time environmental activists have drawn attention to their cause in unique ways.
Last October, climate protesters threw a can of soup at Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting in London’s National Gallery; the painting was behind glass.
CBC News asked Hatherly whether she thought her protest might have turned people off of her cause.
“I think to get people’s attention, you gotta do something dramatic. And I know that I have an incredible amount of privilege, and it is my absolute privilege to stand up and fight for something I believe in,” she said in response.
Hatherly said planning for the protest started roughly one week ago.
She then took a 10-hour bus ride from Vancouver to meet up with two others from On To Ottawa in the B.C. Interior before they drove to Edmonton.
Hatherly said while she has participated in other acts of civil disobedience before, this is the group’s first act.
After she was escorted off the stage, Hatherly said she had several conversations with Junos staff about public disruption.
“Everyone was like, ‘Why are you streaking?’ and I’m like, ‘I’m streaking for a really good reason.’ So I got to have really good conversations with the people that work there, as well as … most of the officers that arrested me at the two facilities I was held at,” she said.
David Tindall, a sociology professor at the University of British Columbia, said the incident at the Junos was a classic case of an activist trying to “create a spectacle” and get media attention.
“I think the Juno Awards were a good example of an opportunity where they probably knew there was going to be a lot of media attention,” he said.
“And I think a lot of young people who are activists right now have really lost their patience in terms of a variety of things, but acting on climate change, acting on trying to protect old growth forests, acting on Indigenous claims around land and also in Ontario, there’s issues around the green belt.”
However, Tindall said the incident might have been more effective if it had happened at a government event or in the presence of politicians.
“I don’t think that necessarily disrupting musicians getting awards has the same sort of impact in terms of putting pressure on people that are at the event,” he said.
“My sense is probably there is more paying attention to the spectacle part than the message part in this instance.”
Tindall said that with young activists feeling a sense of urgency around climate change issues, he expects there will be more of these types of acts in the future.