For several weeks, there have been gatherings across ‘Canada’ of those who believe they are members of a ‘Freedom Convoy.’ Every week, people have flooded the streets of major Canadian cities to honk, jeer, and demand that provincial and federal governments end all vaccine mandates put in place to protect the population from COVID-19. Despite these protests being a known place of gathering for white supremacists, the movement has started appropriating Indigenous symbols and movements.
Some of these protestors drive around with signs that claim statements along of the lines of “I love you no matter your views”; however, these protests have been known gathering grounds of racists and hateful conspiracy groups. These protestors are part of the same movement that only weeks ago were flying Nazi flags in Ottawa.
Some of the known groups that frequent these protests were recently highlighted in a post by Inclusive Canada. While most of the groups are anti-COVID-19 conspiracists, like the ‘Duck Hunters’ who call for violence against healthcare workers, there are some white supremacist groups that have also joined the throngs.
There have been people flying the thin blue line flag at these protests. The thin blue line was a symbol that arose to combat the Black Lives Matter movement. It has been a symbol of hate and division, the RCMP has even banned officers from wearing the symbol on their uniforms.
The red Canada ensign has also been flown frequently at these protests. The red Canada ensign has been adopted by white supremacists as a positive symbol of when ‘Canada’ was a whiter place.
‘Freedom Convoy 2022’ is a movement that actively allows violent conspiracy groups and white nationalists to march with them. That is why the appropriation of Indigenous movements and symbolism is so harmful and deplorable.
There have been images and videos out of Ottawa of non-Indigenous protestors mocking Indigenous drumming and songs. There have also been pipe ceremonies happening without the proper protocol and permission from Nations, with pipes being gifted to racist, inflammatory, self-proclaimed journalists.
Perhaps the most disgusting appropriation that has happened since the start of the demonstrations, is the co-opting of Orange Shirt Day and sayings like “every child matters.” The orange shirt movement started from the fact that Phyllis Webstad had her orange shirt taken from her when she was forced to attend a residential school.
These protestors have the audacity to fly a flag with racist and colonial implications like the red ensign, and at the same time use the phrase “every child matters.” This is a disgusting show of disrespect and hypocrisy.
It does not matter whether one believes health mandates are necessary or not, there needs to stop being a comparison between them and atrocities of the past.
Having to wear a mask while enjoying full and unrestricted freedom is not the same as being forced from your home, not being allowed to speak your language, and being abused regularly. It is not the same as thousands of children never going home to their communities without explanation.
Having to take a two week break from sitting in restaurants is not the same as being forced onto trains, being put into concentration camps, separated from family and loved ones, and systematically murdered. It is not the same as the ethnic cleansing and genocide of 6 million people.
It is just wrong to compare public health mandates to atrocities like this.
If you know anyone that compares having to show a QR code to go to the gym to residential schools or the holocaust, educate them. This type of rhetoric is wrong, dangerous, and immensely disrespectful.