Protesters decided to bare it all—or at least bare it red—outside of Montreal’s F1 Grand Prix yesterday. It seems to have elicited more interest than public division which is more than can be said for the nude protests staged by Sons of Freedom Doukhobors in the 20th century.
I’m not 100% certain whether the Freedomites were the first to protest nude, but if internet research has done me justice, their 1903 trek in Saskatchewan is the first point on the naked protest timeline.
Doukhobors marching nude in Langham, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1903. Source:GHP2@yahoogroups.com
Sons of Freedom not only gained media attention as a result of disrobing, but from the 1930s to the early 1990s, they were jailed up to three years under Canadian Law. In fact, Canada’a public nudity laws were created in response to Doukhobors who were dropping trou.
This Magazine details the creation of section 174 of Canada’s Criminal Code :
1931 The Criminal Code first defines nudity as an offense in response to mass nude anti-conscription protests by radical Doukhobors, a Russian pacifist religious sect. The following year, 118 Doukhobors are arrested and sentenced to three years each for their naked protest.
According to CBC, 36 arrests were made during yesterday’s protests on allegations of breaches of peace and assault. So far, no one has mentioned any arrests made on the basis of nudity in public space. The public nudity law was actually amended in 1954 to remove the Doukhobor-related reference to parading nude. Criminal charges can still be laid, but are fairly rare. Instead, prosecutors give indecency or mischief charges.
Law makers and police alike are understandably concerned with property damage and aggressive activists in Montreal. Naked citizens seem to be the least of their worries.
CBC seems to agree. A reporter during their June 7 morning newscast contrasted destructive demonstrators in Montreal with the raucous but peaceful protesters nearby.
Today, there are swaths of protesters around the globe who disrobe for their cause: animal activists, sex trade protesters, feminist advocates and environmental crusaders. Who would have guessed that Canadians would have been early pioneers of the nude march?