I feel so terrible for all the people who live in Ottawa who are scared to walk outside in fear of being harassed by the protesters, especially people of colour who might already fear being attacked, verbally or physically.
This is a demonstration of privilege and selfishness masquerading as a fight for freedom
By Ash Sabinin, Contributor
If you’ve been paying attention to Canadian news in any capacity, you’re probably aware of the so-called “Freedom Convoy” that has invaded Ottawa and terrorized its residents. If not, I’ll bring you up to speed in a super simplified summary: the “Freedom Convoy” is made up of truckers and their supporters who travelled to Ottawa to demand the federal government end the Covid-19 vaccine mandates and has so far been a complete nuisance, in more ways than one.
On January 29, I went downtown and when I exited the SkyTrain station I was confronted with a parade of trucks and other vehicles lined up bumper to bumper on Burrard Street, all of them laying on or repeatedly honking their horns. There were also people walking and holding up signs, some of which were comically small and impossible to read, in a show of support for those in Ottawa. While I don’t have an issue with people protesting what they feel is unjust, I have an issue with the unnecessary noise and air pollution created by these demonstrations. Honking all day and driving around Vancouver does nothing except annoy people, make unnecessary traffic, and release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
The situation is even worse in Ottawa with the overwhelming number of protesters causing issues city-wide, from the harassment of people wearing masks and businesses that follow the health guidelines to a lack of access for snow removal and emergency vehicles, not to mention protesters using residents’ garbage cans as toilets.
I’m also absolutely disgusted to see and hear that people are flying flags with swastikas on them and confederate flags here in Canada. That was the final nail in the coffin that we really are no better than the United States for me. I’m ashamed and disgusted that people feel as if it’s alright to wave those flags and disgusted that people are using this protest as an excuse to display their hatred and bigotry. I feel so terrible for all the people who live in Ottawa who are scared to walk outside in fear of being harassed by the protesters, especially people of colour who might already fear being attacked, verbally or physically. There are also businesses who’ve had to shut their doors until the situation improves due to protesters coming in, unmasked, to harass employees about the vaccine mandate.
That’s not to say I support those who are protesting vaccines without using racist and hateful imagery or narratives. I think to be a part of this “convoy” is a sign of selfishness and a lack of compassion for others. People who can get the vaccine should get it, not only to protect themselves but to protect those who can’t get the vaccine for whatever reason. Not being allowed to go to restaurants because someone’s chosen to not get vaccinated is not an infringement on your human rights, but simply a precaution to avoid spreading Covid and overwhelming hospitals yet again.
I cannot understand feeling such a lack of compassion for those who are most vulnerable in our society and trying to act as if choosing to remain unvaccinated is somehow simply a personal choice and not something that will affect others’ lives greatly. It disheartens me that people feel so strongly about this, and it enrages me that this “Freedom Convoy” across Canada creating unnecessary stress and pollution is how they decided to express their discontent.