Once again, I find myself appalled and embarrassed by human behaviour, and questioning how we came to this.
What in the world happened to human dignity and civility? This is the question I find myself asking over and over again—having no answers of course—after events of the weekend. Events that sadly have garnered international attention, much to Canada’s embarrassment on a world stage. It started with a cross-country trucker convoy in British Columbia, eventually making its way to our nation’s capital. It was meant to be a protest against the vaccine mandates for cross-border truckers, ironically being a moot point to begin with considering at least 90% of them have already been fully vaccinated. If only it had ended there…
On Saturday the convoy took station on streets outside the parliament buildings in Ottawa, and unfortunately for the city’s residents and those of a soon to be shocked nation, they weren’t alone. What started as a rightful, and ideally peaceful protest turned ugly as it drew in outspoken and radical anti-mask, anti-vax, and anti-restriction protestors in large numbers. Some of which were even seen in my home town—a long way from Ottawa— parading up and down streets causing public disturbances, while spewing rhetoric and misinformation. The very goal and message of this convoy was quickly smothered, and forgotten, by despicable and disgusting behaviour that infuriates me beyond words. So much so, in fact, that I was almost brought to tears in anger and frustration watching the videos and images of the most contemptible acts.
Here’s a list of some of the outrageous and appalling behaviour displayed:
- charging into a nearby shopping mall completely unmasked, not only causing a public disturbance and breaking the law, but also putting the health and safety of the staff and other patrons in jeopardy The mall had to be closed along with other businesses, and still is.
- flying Confederate and Swastika flags
- flying our Canadian flag upside down
- desecrating the statue of Terry Fox Terry Fox: a national and international hero that spearheaded awareness and funding of cancer research. with “freedom” signs and an upside down flag
- storming a soup kitchen being verbally and physically abusive to staff and residents, while demanding they be given food
- verbal harassment and uttering racial slurs toward a security guard at the kitchen
- displaying of signs and abusive language against our Prime Minister, including ”Fuck Trudeau” and ”Trudeau 4 Treason”
- honking horns and chanting throughout the night
- defecating and urinating in public, including on the National War Memorial
- jumping on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier A Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a monument dedicated to the services of an unknown soldier and to the common memories of all soldiers killed in war.
Any one of these individually would be bad enough in and of itself to make someone angry. Combine them all together on the same day and it’s enough to make a person feel ashamed, dismayed, and fearful they live in the same country where these actions committed by supposedly fellow “citizens” are taking place. These people presume to speak for Terry Fox and his foundation, and imply that he also stood for this “freedom” they’re touting. That he felt the same way about this pandemic, and the tools we have available to fight it. That somehow he would have approved and endorsed their actions and behaviour.
Terry Fox was a man who believed in science, medicine, and health, and did everything in his remaining power to bring their doctrines to the forefront of our knowledge and awareness. All of this while spending the last days of his life attempting a cross-country run with one artificial leg. He didn’t just believe in these things deeply; he physically and emotionally lived them with a courage and resilience that words will never truly give justice to. Terry sacrificed his time, his body, and ultimately his life for research and science. Yet here we are, when the same level of research and science provided us with a miracle never thought possible at the start of this pandemic, yet these vigilantes have the gall and ignorance to flagrantly besmirch Terry’s name and heroism.
Unfortunately, nothing prepared me for the perhaps even more disgraceful vandalism and acts of complete disrespect toward monuments of our fallen heroes of war. You’ll notice my use of quotes earlier surrounding the word freedom, and with good reason. I sit here pondering exactly what “freedom” these people are referring to in their chants, rants, and rhetoric-filled cacophony of audiovisual diarrhea. Sadly, these kinds of people are too lost in their own hate-fueled selfishness to realize the irony of this freedom they’re preaching. Might this freedom they parade up and down the streets defending be the very same freedom those veterans fought and died for so long ago? The same soldiers whose names and sacrifices they knowingly and willfully ignore, sully, and quite literally piss all over?
They might not be able to figure out the answer to that question, but the rest of us sure as hell can.
I don’t even know what to think, how to reconcile my feelings and appease my weary heart, or what to do from here. Even though I feared—and knew—the gears of hatred and division were already cranking, I still lament that it came to this. My shame and embarrassment of being part of this country is only silenced and surpassed by my disappointment and disgust. For a group that symbolizes unity and coming together, they ironically achieved the exact opposite by sewing threads of hate, intolerance, and bigotry. They dare not speak for me and everyone else who actually are working toward unity, wanting to end this pandemic together through strength and solidarity.
These are not the actions of my proud and resolute fellow Canadians. This is not where I ever imagined our society and community would end up. That is not what Terry Fox or the rest of our most distinguished and honoured heroes would ever want to witness, and I have no doubt they would be utterly ashamed as I now am.
This is not my country.