The 2023 Juno Awards took an unexpected turn, to say the least. During Avril Lavigne’s speech, an unplanned guest — wearing slightly fewer clothes than one might expect — showcased a strong message: “Save the Greenbelt.”
But what is the Greenbelt? Why does its saving inspire such bold actions? Keep reading to learn more about the movement and what happened during Lavigne’s speech.
What is the Greenbelt movement?
A “greenbelt” is a large amount of land — typically surrounding an urban area — that is undeveloped, natural, or agricultural, as explained by the Greenbelt Alliance. They can be found in many different places and provide numerous benefits to nearby communities.
This rings true in Ontario as well. The Ontario Greenbelt is the largest greenbelt in the entire world — it’s composed of 2 million total acres, according to the Greenbelt Foundation. It was first created in 2005 with aspirations to prevent the loss of agricultural land, limit urban sprawl, and develop healthy, enjoyable communities.
The Greater Golden Horseshoe region is projected to have a population of 13.5 million by 2041, which is what prompted the protection of the land in the first place. It became abundantly clear that preserving these resources is essential for these growing communities to thrive.
The Greenbelt functions as a well of endless benefits: It’s provides jobs, protects species, provides clean drinking water, offsets carbon emissions, and the list goes on and on.
But there’s one huge problem — the Ontario Greenbelt is under attack.
All of the goals and plans that were originally established in 2005, are being completely undermined. According to Environmental Defence Canada, developers and municipalities want to increase urban sprawl, build an unnecessary airport, and use natural areas and agricultural lands as dumping grounds.
As you can imagine, this is the exact opposite of what people had in mind for the Greenbelt — which is essentially how the movement for putting a stop to development was born.
And, in a rather interesting turn of events, all of this is what led to a passionate protester taking the stage at the Juno Awards.
During Avril Lavigne’s speech at the Juno Awards, a streaker protested on stage.
During the Juno Awards, held on March 13, 2023, Avril Lavigne took the stage to make a speech. As she was introducing AP Dhillion, a topless woman casually strolled onto the stage — nobody, not even the security guards, stopped her. On her back, the message “Stop logging old growth now: Save the Greenbelt” was written in black.
On her front, she wore pasties, as well as handwritten messages reading "land back" and "our clock is ticking: 745 days left."
As you can see in the above video, the protester smiled and walked around the stage while Lavigne continued to speak. She had her hands up to ensure that her message could be read by as many people as possible. Incredibly enough, this went on for a few seconds before Lavigne confronted her, but eventually, the pop star told the woman to get off the stage.
"Get the f--k off. Get the f--k off, b---h!" Lavigne told her with a chuckle.
Despite Lavigne’s strong words, the singer didn’t seem totally upset about the situation. According to CNN, when she won an award later on in the show, she joked: “Now nobody try anything this time.”
And as Edmonton News reported, local charges were pending against the protester as of Tuesday.
Though these kinds of protests are certainly controversial, it's clear that the protester was able to spread her message, and pique the audience's interest about what’s going on in Ontario’s Greenbelt.
To learn more general information about the Greenbelt, you can check out the Greenbelt Foundation’s website.