A Transition in Ideology
There needs to be a significant shift in mentality among nudists regarding nude recreation in Canada, and by extension, North America. The advancement of the acceptance of the human body within our culture has been stagnant for decades. The strange part is that it’s NOT the law that is stopping this advancement. The law in Canada mostly supports the quest for self-fulfillment.
Calgary Nude Recreation (CNR) hosted a series of nude activities in quiet areas during the summer of 2019 (read our blog about it HERE). Three of the events took place inside the city limits of Calgary, a city of over 1.3 million people. We conduct our events openly with the relevant authorities because we don’t believe our form of recreation is incompatible with our culture. Criminal Code s. 174, which bans public nudity in Canada without a lawful excuse, is not worthy of concern for us as demonstrated by our successful events. They key part is “without lawful excuse”, which is largely undefined by law. We believe proper naturism IS that lawful excuse, and the authorities we work with seem to agree (Read our legal blog HERE).
Some suggest law enforcement will use other laws to stop nude recreation, such as with the man in Guelph Ontario who tried meditating naked in a city park near a playground. He was arrested for “causing a disturbance”. Well… he got arrested because he WAS causing a disturbance.
CNR supports law enforcement in keeping the peace and enforcing the law. The police made the right choice in Guelph.
We do not fear the police even though we host nude events in public areas. There is clearly a difference with the way we host events. To many, these differences are very subtle and deemed insignificant. We agree the differences are subtle, but those differences are incredibly important. We call those subtle differences “nuances”.
We have demonstrated our methods and philosophy are ALREADY compatible with our culture. We just took the time to show others what we already knew ourselves.
Applying Nuances to Our Reality
There are nuances to everything we do in life, and we don’t even waste time thinking about many of them. You aren’t likely to head in to the office in a swim suit and flip flops, and you probably aren’t going to attend a funeral wearing your dirty gardening clothes and muddy shoes. Neither of these things is illegal, so why can’t you do them? Because our culture doesn’t view those things as acceptable, and that is very important to understand.
CNR believes that the majority of the people have no issues with nude recreation. They have issues with people who use nudity to be antagonistic, proselytizing, and disruptive.
According to a 2006 Roper Public Affairs poll, conducted for the Naturism Education Foundation (NEF), 74% of Americans believe people should be able to engage in nude recreation in established areas. 54% of Americans believe that the government should set aside designated areas for nude recreation. These numbers show amazing support for nude recreation, and its likely those numbers are higher in Canada.
Our goals are achievable; we just need to be smart about it. We just need to show people that proper naturism is already compatible with our culture.
Nuances and Public Disturbances
Nudists are NOT being singled out by the requirement to consider their impact on others, and it’s time they stop pretending they are.
In 2019 at the Gay Pride festival in Toronto, a street preacher with a megaphone was arrested. He entered an area where he knew he would be the minority by a large margin. It was made very clear he was not welcome and his conduct was not appreciated. He had a megaphone. He refused to follow repeated requests by the police to stop using the megaphone and to tone down his message. He was adamant that he had a right to create a disturbance. He was arrested for disturbing the peace as a means to force compliance. If viewed with a broad lens, the scenario may sound incredibly familiar.
We have a pretty clear list of guidelines to follow. We avoid these pitfalls and have demonstrated repeated successes of our methods and philosophy. Proper naturism is trouble-free.
Nuances and Nude Recreation
So how do you get naked in a culture that is potentially uptight about nudity, without creating a ruckus or a disturbance? You do so by understanding the nuances that make one situation acceptable and another unacceptable, and then you make compromises. Those who can’t understand the difference between a quiet spot on the river and the grocery store are the reason that s. 174 exists. Perhaps this sounds harsh, but that harshness doesn’t make the statement untrue.
Many refuse to accept nuances to be valid; “either its legal or it’s not” is a common phrase we hear regarding nudity. Well, if one group is “getting away” with something, and another is not, perhaps effort should be put in to identify the nuances between the two situations. CNR hosts nude events in quiet public areas and the authorities know where to find us. Our events have been trouble free.
We emphasize “quiet locations” for hosting nude activities. This is a key part of our advocacy. Do you believe this would include your back yard? What if there were three 2-story homes that have a clear view of your back yard? What is the difference between your backyard and the river? What if less people are likely to walk past you in your back yard? Are they both equally acceptable locations for nude recreation?
In the perfect world, yes, they would both be acceptable. We do not live in that world. The difference with your back yard is that your neighbours live there. It is not reasonable to ask them to leave or not look out the windows of their home if they do not wish to see you. At the river, it is far more reasonable for one party to go somewhere else. In fact, many public disputes are settled simply by asking opposing parties to go separate ways.
The solution that works in public areas is not practical or reasonable when dealing with private residences. Compromise becomes near impossible in residences. It is not fair to use someone’s residence to force your nudity on them.
There ARE restrictions on public nudity, and we believe those restrictions are valid, needed, reasonable, and acceptable. We have these rules because there are those who refuse to accept that nuances exist. We are proving that these restrictions do not stop nude recreation, even in big cities.
Nuances and Nude Advocacy
For advocacy to work, we must show proof of concept. We must accept that while what we are doing may not be wrong, there will be people who interpret it as wrong. We must accept that we will be treated unfairly until we have shown proof of concept. We must push only one boundary at a time, and do so in a comfortable way.
We must consider what kind of undue disturbance our recreation creates with others in any given situation. Are we making an attempt to impact as few people as possible? Are we engaging in nude recreation for self-fulfillment purposes? Are we using nudity to antagonize people? Are we grossly out of place?
For nude advocacy to work across Canada, nudists must stop trying to implement a nudist resort ideology to all aspects of the public realm. The greater public can’t even agree on the best way to reduce unemployment, or the best type of food, or the best sports team. The non-naked public is not going to accept nudism at the grocery store or on the subway. As soon as this is understood, we can find a compromise between nude recreation and the needs of the public to maintain a peaceful co-existence.
To be clear, we like nudist resorts and the vibe they create. What we don’t like is the assumption that since something works at a nudist resort, that same concept should work in any public location. The law does not support this belief either. Compromises MUST be made to keep the peace and minimize disturbances.
Our Nuanced Approach to Advocacy
We do not use someone’s place of employment or home residence to force our nudity on them.
We engage in advocacy with a large group of people, our membership base. A lone man will be treated far differently than a large mixed-gender group. One person is easy to stop, but a large group of people is much more difficult because it demonstrates wider support. We started our activities as low key as possible. We do not publicly promote our events as if it is the World Naked Bike Ride. We pick the quietest spots we can find, and we are building a history of trouble free activities.
We are transparent with the authorities. We tell them, and then SHOW them, that we have no desires to cause problems. We will show the authorities that even when we have to end our day early (and get dressed) it’s STILL not a problem. We remove all reason the authorities have to fear our activities by being graceful and understanding at all times. A “request” from the police is a nice way of telling someone to do something. We will follow their instructions and requests, and do so happily.
If an issue with the general public ever does happen, it’ll likely be apparent to the authorities who the problem is, as long as we have a credible history of trouble-free events behind us.
This will take time. We will continue to demonstrate that proper naturism is trouble-free, and that it is a normal form of recreation. We will all make nude recreation more publicly visible over time. As more and more people become accustomed to nude recreation they will be more accepting of it. The restrictions we currently deal with will be relaxed. People will start to barely notice naked people in public, they’ll just see people enjoying the sun by the river. And eventually, someone’s kid is going to grow up thinking how strange it is that we used to get all worked up over nudity.
Together, we will bring nude recreation into the mainstream in Canada. We have already shown that its already compatible with our culture.
CNR has an outdoor events planning guide for established nude groups, and a separate guide for starting your own nude group. We want to assist you in achieving the same successes as us. Contact CalgaryNudeRecreation@Gmail.com if you are interested.