Passengers at the Mont-Royal metro station on Saturday were not greeted with the usual sights and sounds of the Plateau. Instead, as they stepped into Gérald-Godin Square, they found themselves in the middle of a lively event, looking straight at a towering pyramid of shoes and being asked to contribute their own footwear.
The pyramid was the centerpiece of Handicap International’s seventh annual Pyramid of Shoes, an event organized to raise awareness of the fight against the use of landmines and cluster bombs worldwide and the realities of the people living in the 80 countries still littered with the former.
While raising awareness about this issue, Handicap International successfully created a family-friendly, educational atmosphere to inspire people to mobilize. With a beautiful fall day as the backdrop, people mingled in the square learning about the landmines, demining methods, and survivor rehabilitation.
There were plenty of Handicap International volunteers on hand, ready to explain the pyramid and the cause they were advocating for. Papa Seck, a volunteer for over a year and an event attendee, explained the pyramid’s purpose.
“It’s very symbolic,” Seck said. “Throwing shoes shows we care for those who have been injured by mines, it shows our concern.”
The event was also used to collect signatures for a petition against landmines. Handicap International employee Muriel Mac-Seing said that the government should be more active on the issue.
“We need to reassert Canada’s role as a leader,” Mac-Seing said. “Not only in funding but in advocacy, solidarity and support for survivors.”
Every half-hour, there were demining demonstrations showing the labor-intensive process behind the detection and safe detonation of mines. People could pose for Facebook photos wearing demining outfits or try walking around in a prosthetic. Spiderman and Batman entertained children, most of whom had their faces painted by a volunteer in cowgirl getup.
Jérôme Bobin, communications and mobilization manager for Handicap International and one of the event’s main organizers, couldn’t help but smile as he talked about how the day was going.
“It’s great,” said Bobin. “We’re very happy and are in motion to meet our objective.”