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Updated: Chinook Blast postpones Drag on Ice show, citing safety concerns from pending protests

Chinook Blast has postponed a pair of LGBTQ2S+ events that were planned for Feb. 11, after the events were to be targeted by anti-drag, anti-trans activists over the weekend.

Drag on Ice and DJ Gaysnakes were set to take to Olympic Plaza on Saturday for a pair of family-friendly events.

Franca Gualtieri, Executive Director for Chinook Blast, said that the winter festival was putting the safety of performers and guests firsts.

“We are aware of the protests that are planned during the Drag on Ice and DJ Gaysnakes performances happening on Chinook Blast’s final weekend,” she said.

“In collaboration with our partners and the performers, we made the decision to postpone the programming to a later date when we can better ensure the safety of everyone.”

Gualtieri said that the festival had worked with City of Calgary administration and the Calgary Police Service, stating that city and police were ready to support the festival regardless of whether the Drag on Ice event went forward, or was postponed.

“We look forward to all the activities that are happening on our final weekend and will announce the new date and time for both postponed performances as soon as they are confirmed,” Gualtieri said.

Counter-protesters, who cite themselves as drag defenders, had planned to attend the Drag on Ice show at Olympic Plaza as well.

Escalating anti-drag, anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ2S+ protests since December

Mayor Jyoti Gondek posted to Twitter on Friday morning, stating that she was saddened and frustrated by Chinook Blast cancelling the anticipated performances.

“I respect the decision and the need to prioritize public & performer safety. But this cannot go on,” she wrote.

The Mayor indicated that she had received confirmation following her January 17 ask of City of Calgary Administrators for a solution to ongoing protests that are “rooted in hatred.”

“I have received confirmation that The City of Calgary will leverage our street harassment bylaw to fine those who openly communicate hateful messaging, to stop them in the act,” the mayor said.

She thanked the Calgary Police Service for examining a different method to address protests that depart from peaceful assemblies.

“The new reality is that some protests are designed to perpetuate fear and hate,” Mayor Gondek said.

Calgary Downtown Association Executive Director Mark Garner also issued a statement about the cancellation, on behalf of the CDA.

“The CDA is deeply disappointed in the change and cancellation of programming for this weekends Chinook Blast.”

“We are supportive of a safe and inclusive downtown for ALL Calgarians.”

MORE: Legal definitions influence Calgary’s ability to deal with protests ‘rooted in hatred’

The number of protests against drag shows and the LGBTQ2S+ community has been increasing in Calgary since December 2022.

Protesters have targeted drag shows that have been held in Inglewood, Deerfoot City, and Stephen Avenue. Similar protests were threatened but did not occur, against a drag story time at the Calgary Public Library.

In materials obtained by LWC about the planned protest for the Drag on Ice Show, organizers used the quote “it would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of the little ones to stumble.”

Similar talk was used against counter-protesters on January 29, when former Ward 9 political candidate and current preacher Derek Reimer used biblical quotes about the wrath of God being delivered onto members of the LGBTQ2S+ community.

Ongoing protests have also been planned against the Canyon Meadows Aquatics Centre, following social media outrage over a transgender woman using a women’s change room.