Group celebrates silver anniversary with “UnConvention”
Fran Thoburn is no apple-pie granny.
In 1987, at age 55, Thoburn was concerned about the planet being a clean and healthy place for all grandchildren, so she and 10 other Victoria women created a group where mature women could stand up for what they believed in — with a pinch of irony and a healthy dash of humour.
“We never expected people to come out to see us, so we would go to them,” says Thoburn. “Whether it was standing in line at the post office or standing together at events, we would bring our songs and outfits, and make people notice us.”
Now, 25 years later, that same group is still feared by naughty politicians and adored by tone-deaf onlookers everywhere as hundreds of Raging Grannies groups have sprung up around the world. And the politically savvy activists will celebrate their silver anniversary in style, by hosting the private “UnConvention,” from Aug. 8 to 11 in Victoria, with 112 Grannies coming from across North America to trade feathered hats and war stories.
Those stories drift from doing jail time for sit-ins to making real changes in Canada’s political landscape. But while the Grannies have earned a reputation for protesting anything, they only show up to events they believe could impact their grandchildren — and with their brilliant smiles and colourful costumes (meant to parody old ladies), they’ve set a gentle, but decidedly firm tone.
“One of my favourite memories was when we were attending a gay-rights event off the Island,” says Virginia Daniel, 69, of Victoria. “One young man came up to us and said, ‘You know, I was really scared about coming here today, but as soon as I saw the Raging Grannies, I felt safe.’” M
Join the Grannies at “Nagasaki/Hiroshima Remembered,” an annual lantern ceremony marking the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Japan. Thurs., Aug. 9, 7:30pm at Esquimalt-Gorge Park.