Open Letter from an Ottawa Resident to the Convoy
We hear you: in the streets, in our homes, in our nightmares.
So here we are.
It doesn’t sound like many of us have offered you a warm welcome yet, so please allow me to do so. Welcome to Ottawa.Also known as Odawa. Unceded Algonquin land.
How’s your week been going?
Mine hasn’t been great.
I gather you don’t care too much about me though, I just live here. And why would you? You don’t know me. So, I guess this is a stand off?
There are many of you and you are not happy.
I see, hear, and feel your rage. I actually share some of that rage.
You are not fringe. You are not stupid, uneducated, lazy, or worth anything less than anyone else.
You work hard. You’ve had a couple bad years.
Some of you are (or were) my friends and neighbours. Maybe even my family.
Many of you are exhausted. Many of you are angry, frustrated, lonely, miserable, broke, sick, grieving, or even on the brink of homelessness (or pretending to be).
I hear you. We hear you.
He hears you.
The world hears you.
Regrettably, given how many of you called me a see-you-next-Tuesday since you arrived uninvited onto my literal doorstep, I worry that few of you may read this in full. Or feel compelled to answer a few big questions.
But sorry, again, this isn’t about me.
This is about you. So, let’s talk.
First, a few questions.
Let me see if I understand you correctly:
You do not trust the government. Any level of democratically elected government. Even while draping yourself in Canadian or American flags.
You do not trust many (any?) of the institutions that uphold our democracy.
Especially the news media. Or should I say “The Lamestream Fake News Media” (or anything other than C*rlson, that guy who lives with that girl, True N*rth Centre, B*xte, P*terson, R*gan, R*ndy H*llier, B*rnier, P*lievre, R*x, R*bel, E*ra, M*x, El*n, D*n and co., these guys, Facebook/Meta/Reddit/Zello/Rumble, certain political fundraising emails, that guy who killed those guys and got away with it then went on a F*x/M*ga Inc. press tour, Bob Loblaws, and every angry comment section on the internet. Surely I missed someone. Please accept my apologies).
By the way, I have read your Memorandum of Understanding. As I understand it, your group of unelected leaders want to negotiate with the unelected Senate and unelected Governor General of our country to oust a duly elected government from office unless it gives in to your demands.
Where have we heard that story before?
You have some rather creative definitions for the word “FREEDOM.”
I gather this having read your mandate letter, campaign materials and social media blasts. I also watched your “press conference” here in Ottawa in full.
That was fun.
(For the record: that was not a press conference. Typically, you would answer one or more questions from the press at a press conference – and you wouldn’t have this guy there to shield you. Anyways…).
Law and order aren’t necessary because it seems you have a roving (pun) badge-and-gun team of friendly local tour guides.
Great work on that tiny house you’re working on to replace those homeless encampments. And those tiny houses.Protesters at Confederation park, right across from City Hall and beside the NAC and Rideaul Canal, appear to be building some type of wooden structure. They've also collected a stockpile of propane tanks and diesel fuel. @CTVNews
Oh wait. Who were those meant for anyway?
ALSO, WHY DO YOU HAVE SO MUCH FLAMMABLE LIQUID?
You’ve been politely asked to do two things to protect yourself and others, and you do not want to do those things. Those things are to get vaccinated and to be a decent human person.
The lockdowns enforced by some provinces – I repeat: SOME, NOT ALL PROVINCES and not the City of Ottawa or literally any living person who lives or works here – have been, at times, confusing. A bit much. Seemingly arbitrary.
Again. I get it, man. Me too. Same here. It sucks.
By the way, I’m afraid of needles too.
Then again, I do feel enormously privileged to be able to waltz outside and get vaccinated, for free, at my convenience, almost anywhere. Did you know you can do the same?
Oh wait – since you’ve arrived, I can’t do that thing I just mentioned anymore. Neither can any of my neighbours, who also can’t get to work. Or anywhere.
You seem fine with being a big tent movement.
That’s cool, most political movements operate that way. Inclusivity is cool.
Then again letting literal Nazis (I repeat: NAZIS), delusional M*GA diehards and some of the insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. capitol into that tent seems like a bit of a stretch. But who am I to judge?
PS. Were those your friends who desecrated nearly national monuments, vandalized queer storefronts, obstructed paramedics from doing their jobs, threatened essentially every living person in our downtown core, delivered us perpetual noise pollution in the same style as the Waco stand-off, and seem to have no problem with being had by any number of sketchy foreign influences? I mean, who wouldn’t want those people as friends, right?
You’re fine with cultural appropriation, showing up somewhere uninvited, incivility, and not-so-subtly threatening extreme violence to get your way.
And finally (and this is the big one) you hate the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Justinflation™ because he is a “Chinese” “tyrant” “socialist” (?) and possibly the son of Fidel Castro or something.
You read it on Reddit or in those PPC emails, or in an IG story, or on F*cker Carlson, or The P*st Mille*nial, or in El*n’s non sequitur tweets, or from Roe Jogan or Porden Jeterson or his daughter.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of reasons to protest this government. But, in fairness, I don’t recall the Wet’suwet’en land defenders raiding a homeless shelter, waiving “F#ck Trudeau” flags or spreading QAnon conspiracy theories outside Parliament.
It’s been a week.
And unless you live on the moon or under a rock, the message H*NK H*NK has been received.
And my city and the many of us who live here are caught in the crossfire of this political firestorm – and we are not okay.
I cannot remember the last time I could hear myself think over the screaming and shouting and sirens and horns and dual train air horns and fireworks and partying. I can’t remember the last time I was able to breathe diesel-free oxygen out my window.
I’m a young woman, and I’ve lived in downtown Ottawa for many years. Close to fifteen years total. I’m accustomed to street harassment. Aggressive, horrifying street harassment.
I always carry a whistle on my keychain. I use Hollaback and generally always text or call someone when I leave my apartment and when I get back home.An Ottawa women's shelter says women have been admitted to hospital as a result of the protests because they are being retraumatized by the protesters and are suffering from heightened fear and anxietyThese last six days have been extremely stressful for people experiencing homelessness and frontline staff working to support them in the downtown core. Read the full statement on the downtown protest's impact on Cornerstone’s emergency shelter here: https://t.co/MO3M7SWaHO https://t.co/63LsvWkRRrCornerstone Housing for Women @HopeCornerstone
None of these normal practices would lift the paralyzing fear I and many others have felt for this gathering’s duration, were we to venture out for a walk. Which most of us haven’t.A few people have described the vibes of the occupation of downtown Ottawa like a party. To me, it felt like walking as a woman alone at night and passing groups of drunk men. I wasn’t yelled at but I had that same feeling in my stomach one gets while fearing harassment or worse
There is no consent from the Algonquin Nation, on whose land the city of Ottawa rests, for this gathering. This has been made abundantly clear.
Likewise, there has been clear and unequivocal misery and exhaustion expressed by the patient citizens of this colourful and densely-populated downtown core — an area I’ve been blessed to call home for the better part of the last 15 years.
Some parts are rough, sure. But even in six years of working at one of the toughest Beer Stores in the province (at Somerset and Lyon) I have never seen such a callous display of entitlement, loud white toxic masculine rage, civil unrest, chaos, heartlessness, thoughtless, and carelessness.
What was it that Mr. Rogers used to tell us as kids? Or Robert Munsch? You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar?
Honestly, I’ve been reciting so many of these old familiar childhood sayings to myself in my head over the last few days in search of some sort of emotional and spiritual and psychological solace — and after a week, I’m at a loss.
Excellent piece. I am Canadian presently visiting Australia and am ashamed of all they are reporting here about this terrible protest in Canada. Thank you for saying, I'm sure, what many feel. Hopefully it is heard and the police start acting on this unlawful mess.