“Freedom’s just another way for nothing left to lose” – immortalized in song by Janis Joplin however written by Chris Kristofferson
I am so pissed off right now I probably shouldn’t be writing. However when you wake up at 5AM, and my first thought is how threatening this convoy is to my freedom, I have to purge my thoughts. I have spend way to many years letting my own feelings fester out of a sense of “accommodating” other and all that has brought me is increased isolation.
I am not use to letting “fear” stop me from speaking out about social injustices however, with the added stress of pandemic isolation, it makes protesting a lot harder so these blogs are my way. I don’t believe for a minute that this protest any longer has to do with “freedom” but more about a way to intimidate a government into letting potential oppression take place. The ironic icing on the cake is that this is taking place during “Black History Month”, talk about mixed messaging.
I grew up in a time where my “freedoms” were controlled by others. I grew up in a time when schools didn’t have to admit kids with disabilities unless we lived in an institution. I did, a children’s hospital. After aging out of the hospital at 16 I hit the road (after discovering the letter to my parents from the Alberta Eugenics Board) to protect my own future freedom by avoiding forced sexual sterilization (Alberta was the last province to repeal that in 1972). I couldn’t even sign a rental lease without a co-signer until 1974. Where was my “freedom”? History has demonstrated repeatedly that “freedom” to some is oppression to others.
At 16 I was living on the streets of Vancouver creating my own freedoms but being fed on a diet of knowledge by American activists who were draft dodgers taking a stand for freedom of choice. Conscription isn’t about freedom, it is closer to indentured servitude. When the immigrants of the mid 1800’s were fleeing dangers and hostilities in their home country, most were given the option to pay the $300 cost (mainly meant for the elite of the day) to avoid the draft (a lot of money in that time) or sign up for military service. These immigrants had escaped countries where freedoms did not exist so they came to America (and Canada) to find a life of freedom. The Irish were particularly hard hit rooted in the anti-Catholicism that was so prevalent of the times. This practice was compounded by many politicians of the day who also expressed the view that the newly arrived immigrant would get word back to their place of origin in the hopes that it would keep others from immigrating. Sound familiar?
I spend the first fifteen years of my life having all things “free” dictated by healthcare and the societal believes of the day. I spend the next fifteen years dodging government policies and regulations that also controlled my freedoms. I remember a point in 1973, when I moved to Ontario, where I was told straight out “oh we aren’t going to give you this job interview because you are on crutches”. And, in those days, there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. There was no Charter then. Up to 1975 the voting poll manger was the one who made the decision on whether or not I could vote. I didn’t have that freedom at that point. So again I say freedom to some is often oppression to others. I was one of those others and, to me, this isn’t ancient history.
I have trucker friends who are so fed up with this convoy being so focused on “truckers”. I know of two that park their rigs in hidden spots to avoid vandalism when they are home. Both are vaccinated. What started as a simple protest with good intentions opened the door for a group of white supremacists. And this isn’t just a “theory” but is backed by a growing mountain of evidence. Hell they were still holding meeting and burning crosses in Provost, Alberta as recently as 1990. In Nova Scotia there were cross burning in the front yard of a mixed race marriage as recently as 2010.
I have spend almost fifty years fighting the “ripple effect” of racism. The natural naïveté of that “sleepy, polite” Canadian has to come to an end. I cannot think of any other country that would allow any protest that is having such an impact on everyday day life in Canada would be so “politely” dealt with like we are doing. We are opening a door for the days of Jim Crow type law and order to creep its way into Canada. Jim Crow supporters also screamed about “freedoms” while demonizing African American and hiding the true intent behind Jim Crow style legislation.
So here I am at the other end of the age spectrum watching a lifetime of activism being eroded due, in big part, because of complacency. Between generational divides, complacency and the 40% of those who never participate in even the simplest form of democracy “voting”. If freedom for all really existed I wouldn’t have had to spend $8000 to renovate a condo bathroom so I could live here in my wheelchair. We have an aging disabled population who are now overlooked because of elected officials who gave developers breaks (called variances) to deny accessibility standards. The City of Calgary even provides online assistance in how to apply for building variances. So yes, this convoy is very threatening to me and many other marginalized groups. I am not alone.
It is time for people to wake up, grow some cojones and take a stand against these border crossings. This is not a #ConvoyOfFreedom, it is a #ConvoyOfBullies and if governments succumb to bullies send me the forms for medically assisted death. That would be a better option, for me, than to watch my life’s work eroded. Stand up to these fascists now, and I may hate that word, but I hate bullies even more while you still can. Although it might be uncomfortable for many to “accept” the fact that we still have racism and white nationalism in this country. We do and it is growing because so many people don’t want to accept that. My father fought against fascism in WW2 so we wouldn’t have to go through it again.
I have lived it and I know how alive it is. In closing, think about it, how many baby-boomers out there with “silent majority” parents still alive can use apps? For younger generations how many have grandparents with smartphones. Every time a government introduces a “new” service using an app we alienate another sector of our community. Where is there freedom? Wake up so I can sleep in!
Just one man’s opinion but open to dialogue. Feel free to comment…