Student says counter protest against so-called freedom fighters to happen again Saturday
Four weeks ago I witnessed my first real protest. A bunch of people in one place, all unified under one goal. On the corner of Kent and William stood dozens of demonstrators, waving their flags and signs about, shouting over their megaphones. Many cars honked in support as they drove by. A whole horde of people absolutely convinced that they were fighting for what was best. Fighting for their rights, fighting against the government, both ours as well as foreign ones. More than anything, they were fighting for their freedom. Fighting against a force of which they were certain was oppressing them.
When I saw this, I was equal parts scared and angry. Who knew what they were capable of? According to their Facebook page, they were planning a maskless shop around downtown after the protest. This was, in their minds, to help local businesses, which had been so harshly affected by these cruel lockdowns. In reality, shop owners were preparing to close their doors, and would-be customers had mostly vacated the area. Thankfully, this maskless shop didn’t come to fruition.
As the weeks passed, this movement gained more traction, and other movements, notably the Freedom Convoy, emerged. No longer was this just one isolated group. This was a national phenomenon, and a dangerous one at that.
Last week I decided that I had had enough. This was serious now. Our capital was, and continues to be, held under siege by this group of so-called freedom fighters. To match the rising severity of this situation, whatever response we were going to present must also be serious. No political humour or commentary. We would stand, across from the protestors, displaying a simple message: Vaccines and mandates and wearing a mask are not methods of oppression, but instead necessary measures to save lives.
Two of us arrived at Victoria Park around 1:50 PM, 10 minutes before the protest was scheduled to start. A couple walked past, and asked to join us, before they read our signs and realized that we did not support their views. It wasn’t long until the protestors arrived. First, a man approached, Canadian flag affixed to a hockey stick in one hand, ‘informative’ sign in the other. He too thought we were there to support him. After he realized our true position, he told us that there wasn’t any evidence that the masks we were wearing did anything to negate the spread of the virus. After a few more of them showed up on the Victoria Park side of the intersection, we decided to move to the adjacent corner, in front of the library.
A man with a megaphone began heckling us from across the street, calling us cowards for wearing our masks. Soon after, three more people joined us across the street from the protest, bringing our numbers up to five. The megaphone-wielding man continued his barrage of insults, calling us “traitors,” and claiming that we were “paid government actors.” Both sides had cars honking in support. Several people who were stopped at the light rolled down their windows to express their support or to thank us for taking a stand. The man with the megaphone shouted to these cars that they too were traitors, and that their license plates would be recorded.
Several people from the anti-vaccine crowd crossed the street to speak with us. The first to do so was a man who simply seemed to want to block our signs with his. Shortly thereafter, we were approached by a mother and her two children. She was visibly angry, and told us that since we were vaccinated, we were going to die. Another woman approached us about an hour in. She and I talked for what I estimate to be close to half an hour. She claimed to be a health-care worker, but also told me that she did not know how vaccines work, nor that she needed to know how they worked
After the two hours, the crowds dissipated. I intend to return this Saturday, this time hopefully with more people. I’d like to show the good people of Lindsay that these anti-mandate protestors are not the majority, just a very loud minority.
–Jaiden Lang, Kawartha Lakes