A night with the untouchables

I live in downtown Ottawa, right in the middle of the trucker convoy protest. They are literally camped out below my bedroom window. My new neighbours moved in on Friday and they seem determined to stay. I have read a lot about what my new neighbours are supposedly like, mostly from reporters and columnists who write from distant vantage points somewhere in the media heartland of Canada. Apparently the people who inhabit the patch of asphalt next to my bedroom are white supremacists, racists, hatemongers, pseudo-Trumpian grifters, and even QAnon-style nutters. I have a perfect view down Kent Street – the absolute ground zero of the convoy. In the morning, I see some protesters emerge from their trucks to stretch their legs, but mostly throughout the day they remain in their cabs honking their horns. At night I see small groups huddled in quiet conversations in their new found companionship. There is no honking at night. What I haven’t noticed, not even once, are reporters from any of Canada’s news agencies walking among the trucks to find out who these people are. So last night, I decided to do just that – I introduced myself to my new neighbours.

The Convoy on Kent Street. February 2, 2022.

At 10pm I started my walk along – and in – Kent Street. I felt nervous. Would these people shout at me? My clothes, my demeanour, even the way I walk screamed that I’m an outsider. All the trucks were aglow in the late evening mist, idling to maintain warmth, but all with ominously dark interiors. Standing in the middle of the convoy, I felt completely alone as though these giant monsters weren’t piloted by people but were instead autonomous transformer robots from some science fiction universe that had gone into recharging mode for the night. As I moved along I started to notice smatterings of people grouped together between the cabs sharing cigarettes or enjoying light laughs. I kept quiet and moved on. Nearby, I spotted a heavy duty pickup truck, and seeing the silhouette of a person in the driver’s seat, I waved. A young man, probably in his mid 20s, rolled down the window, said hello and I introduced myself. His girlfriend was reclined against the passenger side door with a pillow to prop her up as she watched a movie on her phone. I could easily tell it’s been an uncomfortable few nights. I asked how they felt and I told them I lived across the street. Immediate surprise washed over the young man’s face. He said, “You must hate us. But no one honks past 6pm!” That’s true. As someone who lives right on top of the convoy, there is no noise at night. I said, “No, I don’t hate anyone, but I wanted to find out about you.” The two were from Sudbury Ontario, having arrived on Friday with the bulk of the truckers. I ask what they hoped to achieve, and what they wanted. The young woman in the passenger seat moved forward, excited to share. They said that they didn’t want a country that forced people to get medical treatments such as vaccines. There was no hint of conspiracy theories in their conversation with me, not a hint of racist overtones or hateful demagoguery. I didn’t ask them if they had taken the vaccine, but they were adamant that they were not anti-vaxers.

The next man I ran into was standing in front of the big trucks at the head of the intersection. Past middle age and slightly rotund, he had a face that suggests a lifetime of working outdoors. I introduced myself and he told me he was from Cochrane, Ontario. He also proudly pointed out that he was the block captain who helped maintain order. I thought, oh no, he might be the one person keeping a lid on things; is it all that precarious? I delicately asked how hard his job was to keep the peace but I quickly learned that’s not really what he did. He organized the garbage collection among the cabs, put together snow removal crews to shovel the sidewalks and clear the snow that accumulates on the road. He even has a salting crew for the sidewalks. He proudly bellowed in an irrepressible laugh “We’re taking care of the roads and sidewalks better than the city.” I waved goodbye and continued to the next block.

My next encounter was with a man dressed in dark blue shop-floor coveralls. A wiry man of upper middle age, he seemed taciturn and stood a bit separated from the small crowd that formed behind his cab for a late night smoke. He hailed from the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. He owned his own rig, but he only drove truck occasionally, his main job being a self-employed heavy duty mechanic. He closed his shop to drive to Ottawa, because he said, “I don’t want my new granddaughter to live in a country that would strip the livelihood from someone for not getting vaccinated.” He introduced me to the group beside us. A younger crowd, I can remember their bearded faces, from Athabasca, Alberta, and Swift Current Saskatchewan. The weather had warmed, and it began to rain slightly, but they too were excited to tell me why they came to Ottawa. They felt that they needed to stand up to a government that doesn’t understand what their lives are like. To be honest, I don’t know what their lives are like either – a group of young men who work outside all day with tools that they don’t even own. Vaccine mandates are a bridge too far for them. But again, not a hint of anti-vax conspiracy theories or deranged ideology.

I made my way back through the trucks, my next stop leading me to a man of East Indian descent in conversation with a young man from Sylvan Lake, Alberta. They told me how they were following the news of O’Toole’s departure from the Conservative leadership and that they didn’t like how in government so much power has pooled into so few hands.

The rain began to get harder; I moved quickly through the intersection to the next block. This time I waved at a driver in one of the big rigs. Through the rain it was hard to see him, but he introduced himself, an older man, he had driven up from New Brunswick to lend his support. Just behind him some young men from Gaspésie, Quebec introduced themselves to me in their best English. At that time people started to notice me – this man from Ottawa who lives across the street – just having honest conversations with the convoy. Many felt a deep sense of abuse by a powerful government and that no one thinks they matter.

Behind the crowd from Gaspésie sat a stretch van, the kind you often see associated with industrial cleaners. I could see the shadow of a man leaning out from the back as he placed a small charcoal BBQ on the sidewalk next to his vehicle. He introduced himself and told me he was from one of the reservations on Manitoulin Island. Here I was in conversation with an Indigenous man who was fiercely proud to be part of the convoy. He showed me his medicine wheel and he pointed to its colours, red, black, white, and yellow. He said there is a message of healing in there for all the human races, that we can come together because we are all human. He said, “If you ever find yourself on Manitoulin Island, come to my reserve, I would love to show you my community.” I realized that I was witnessing something profound; I don’t know how to fully express it.

As the night wore on and the rain turned to snow, those conversations repeated themselves. The man from Newfoundland with his bullmastiff, a young couple from British Columbia, the group from Winnipeg that together form what they call “Manitoba Corner ” all of them with similar stories. At Manitoba Corner a boisterous heavily tattooed man spoke to me from the cab of his dually pickup truck – a man who had a look that would have fit right in on the set of some motorcycle movie – pointed out that there are no symbols of hate in the convoy. He said, “Yes there was some clown with a Nazi flag on the weekend, and we don’t know where he’s from, but I’ll tell you what, if we see anyone with a Nazi flag or a Confederate flag, we’ll kick his fucking teeth in. No one’s a Nazi here.” Manitoba Corner all gave a shout out to that.

As I finally made my way back home, after talking to dozens of truckers into the night, I realized I met someone from every province except PEI. They all have a deep love for this country. They believe in it. They believe in Canadians. These are the people that Canada relies on to build its infrastructure, deliver its goods, and fill the ranks of its military in times of war. The overwhelming concern they have is that the vaccine mandates are creating an untouchable class of Canadians. They didn’t make high-falutin arguments from Plato’s Republic, Locke’s treatises, or Bagehot’s interpretation of Westminster parliamentary systems. Instead, they see their government willing to push a class of people outside the boundaries of society, deny them a livelihood, and deny them full membership in the most welcoming country in the world; and they said enough. Last night I learned my new neighbours are not a monstrous faceless occupying mob. They are our moral conscience reminding us – with every blow of their horns – what we should have never forgotten: We are not a country that makes an untouchable class out of our citizens.

994 thoughts on “A night with the untouchables”

  1. I’m Canadian, living in Europe, and following this situation with interest, but of course finding two extremely different viewpoints and reports. I loved reading your experience. Thank you so much for sharing (and as an English teacher, I give you A+ for your writing style!!)

  2. Greetings from Sweden:
    Be proud of the your canadian truckers! They are brave. Most people are scared to death and do not have the courage to protest.

  3. I loved this just normal people sticking up for what should be everyone choice I’m in Australia my friend sent this to me from the UK
    Well done everyone .

  4. Thank you for telling the truth. I’m a supporter of the truckers. I came with my family and people are so nice and I feel safe when I go with my family to support them. But to be honest, I unfortunately, not feel safe when I’m going back to my hotel, we walk everyday back and forth, it’s little far away from the convoy. The last coule days, on our way back to our hotel, some people are yelling at us. I can feel their hate. Hopefully people will realize we’re here to have a choice and we want our freedom back. Thank you David God bless you.

  5. Thank you so much for your article and taking the time both to go and see for yourself what this convoy is all about and then for your well articulated article! Kudos to you for doing this!

  6. Thank you times a million for being a story collector and for sharing them so eloquently with all of us. We needed you to do this and we all need to be heard – no matter where we are from or what we have chosen to put/not put into our bodies. Big high fives from the west coast! I hope you meet someone from PEI tomorrow!

  7. So very well written and I truly believe is felt in the hearts of all Canadians. That we could all have an opportunity to do what you have done, because you have a open mind and did not prejudge. Congratulations!!

  8. I do agree that most of the people who are participating in the convoy are Canadians like you and I. And that their concern is that their government is denying them full membership in the most welcoming country in the world.
    So their solution is no vaccine mandates. Is this a pragmatic solution? Where would we be now if the majority of Canadians had not gotten vaccinated? In an even worse mess. Is this a pragmatic solution for our health care system? What about our exhausted health care workers? Do they not deserve a voice? And what about the almost 35,000 Canadians that have died from COVID? Unfortunately they don’t have a voice… they definitely have been denied membership in the most welcoming country in the world.
    I would have much more respect for this group of people if they would offer a more pragmatic and workable solution. One that would take into consideration all facets of society, not just themselves.

  9. Thank you for listening and sharing. I hope more people will take the time to find out what the truckers and their supports are all about.

  10. The article filled my heart! My favorite new neighbor of yours is the indigenous man who invited you to Manitoulin Island. I felt as though the lot of you are family no matter the background. Thank you for giving ground zero truth. I’ll be sharing you story too!

  11. Thank you so much for writing about your experience. It is quite the eye opener and so clearly needs to be told. The man from Nova Scotia summed it up in a nut shell. His comment made me cry, “I don’t want my new granddaughter to live in a country that would strip the livelihood from someone for not getting vaccinated.”

  12. David,
    What a beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing. This needs to go viral so the doubters can hear and see the truth. Glad you are no longer afraid of your neighbors. These are Patriots, Canadians, your fellow man.

  13. If only we were all so open-minded as to actually make honest inquiries and reconsider our beliefs.
    Thank you!!

  14. Thank you so much Reformed Physicist for your descriptive, accurate, poignent treatise. I don’t have TV / cable nor do I subscribe to so-called newspapers, so I’m blessed to be not influenced by such propaganda. From a statistical perspective, I was heartened to see a 13:1 ratio of positive versus negative responses, together with many congratulatory remarks. There will always be naysayers to the truth , so the negative responses are a fact of life. To the fella who complained he is “tired of the whiners”, I put it to you that the +ve responders were 180° disposed to your ‘whiney’ diatribe.

    1. In fairness, I punt rude, hateful, or threatening comments. When people who disagree politely, I let it through – I’m not hosting a Reddit flame war thread.

  15. Your story was well written and i enjoy reading and being a Canadian and proud of all the trucker that are standing up for our country and may God bless you and all the truckers out there.

  16. This is an insightful look at the truckers. These are people who don’t seem to understand their civic duty but demand person freedom at the cost of societal safety. As a small business owner who was seriously impacted by Covid restrictions and helped by the current government, I have no sympathy for those who choose to be outliers. They are ill informed and selfish in their demand for person freedom. Their ‘plight’ is easily remedied with a free and readily accessible vaccine.

  17. What a beautiful story documenting the importance of communication, human connection and belonging. Thank you for being brave enough to go out of your comfort zone to meet the “angry mob” and learn the truth for yourself. It’s amazing what we can learn and how we can grow when we step outside of our comfort zones! And thank you for sharing your story with the world – may I share on social media?

  18. I cried reading this thank you.
    I wish I could be there but I’m far to west to make the journey. This is beautiful, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for going out and visiting these fellow Canadians! They are fighting for me. Immune compromised un able to be vaxxed alberta girl and her family.

  19. Your blog brought tears to my eyes, as I read samples of your conversations with the truckers in the convoy. You brought a voice that has not been heard for a long time as the main media long ago abandoned talking to ordinary Canadians. Thank you and your new neighbours for showing us what Canada is really all about.

  20. Somebody is lying. The writer says there were no horns at night. He says he talked to truckers who told him there were no horns after 6pm. Videos from CBC, CTV, GLOBAL News, Tweets, and personal media posts from victims of the noise onslaught all show a huge street party under their windows at 4am. Horns, loud music, fireworks, all at once. They are not hard to find for anyone who cares to look.

    1. Kent street in the core is quiet at night and has been since the first night they arrived. That’s my neighbourhood. I live in the core of all this – I can see the Peace Tower from my living room, and the Supreme Court and the Bank of Canada from my bedroom. I’m pretty sure it’s been more noisy in the ByWard Market area – which is rather rambunctious during the best of times – but that’s not near where I live. I don’t know who’s over there, big protests accrete local flavour, but the convoy outside my window is filled with people from all over Canada.

  21. I felt like I was walking right beside you hearing all of the trucker’s reasons for being there. One thing for sure is that there is a common bond with everyone that want the same thing. Well written and needs to be shared to all social media platforms and media.

  22. Thank you so much for coming out and taking part and learning the truth for your self. Very sweet of you to put it in writing. We wish the news would do thier job and not slander us or make us look bad . Love you for the truth . We love you and welcome to the family for life .

  23. Yes , it’s good that you were able to interact with the protesters and reveal that they are human beings with thoughts and feelings.
    Unfortunately, you provided no reporting of the people trying to live and work in downtown Ottawa. Only a few days after restrictions were lifted in Ontario so businesses could re-open and try to get back on their feet, this convoy totally clogged up downtown Ottawa and forced businesses to close again.
    These businesses and workers don’t halve the ability to just sit in their “ rigs” and not work for 2 weeks- it makes me think that these protesters don’t need to work, so don’t get vaccinated and stop driving a semi if that’s what you choose.
    Just remember, there is a choice- and 30 million Canadians have chosen to get vaccinated to try and get us all out of this pandemic and the associated painful restrictions.
    It’s notable that the author of this blog (David) appears to be a government employee who has probably not faced any employment challenges or lost wages.
    Tired of all the whiners

    1. “Unfortunately, you provided no reporting of the people trying to live and work in downtown Ottawa.”
      – He himself is someone who lives and works in downtown Ottawa, and this is his reporting.

    2. For many of us there was no choice, get vaccinated or lose you job and home! How is that a choice? Get vaccinated or I cant go to a restaurant, ball game or gym! How is that a choice? Its not, is discrimination an authoritarianism! Perhaps if more small business owners and regular Canadians had stood up 2 years ago like these folks are doing now all of your businesses could have remained open all along? You’re on the wrong side of this! “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”. Ben Franklin

  24. Well said, indeed. The stories we get on MSM are entirely the opposite. Even watching CBC and CTV, listening to the people they are interviewing, their narrative about the protesters doesn’t match what is on the background behind them. A sincere thanks to David for the eye-opening account from the perspective of a neutral observer… something our MSM might try one day.

  25. Thank you for being willing to see the truth for yourself and sharing your experience! I love how you expressed what makes us human, our willingness to genuinely connect with each other and our desire for a better world for our selves and future generations! So grateful for you telling the story of these courageous people!

    1. I agree with your concise comment.
      David’s viewpoint has opened up my mind.
      I am grateful for people like himself that speak for all of us.
      Thank you.

  26. This is the one side of the story, so now your next trip should be to a hospital in your area and talk to the ICU doctors and ICU nurses that have been working very hard to give people , vaccinated or non vaccinated, a chance to survive and hear their story. It is not a political matter that we are dealing with , it is still a health matter and that is what these people do not seem to want to understand.
    Nobody is taking away your right to choose but if you decide to be non vaccinated than for the greater good to society there will be some limitations untill we get through this.

      1. Reading some of these comments there is a segment of this group that believes the members of this convoy are unvaccinated which is not what you said. Some may be but others are vaccinated, they just believe that the government has no right to treat its citizens this way. Once again they chose to only see what they wanted to see, not what you wrote.

      2. I loved learning about your evening stroll among the freedom convoy. So silent and sincere were your comments it brought such a calming aspect to this whole event. These truckers gave up their comforts of home to make everyone’s life richer in more ways than monetary. To restore unity that we were taught did not exist anymore. It is there. waiting to be embraced. Thank you and I will read your other posts.

    1. I agree. This is not a one sided story and that is one of the big issues. People are seeing only their side and of course their side has to be the right side. I am a Canadian. I love the people of this country.

    1. This made me cry. So beautifully captured, so thoughtfully written. I want THESE Canadians to be my neighbours. 🇨🇦🇨🇦 Thank you for writing this! They have made Canada proud again! ♥️

  27. Thanks for your observations, much appreciated! I’m surprised how many of my friends down in the lower 48 have even heard of what’s going on, the major/popular stations aren’t giving it much if any attention. Go Canada!

  28. The more I read, the harder it was to hold back the tears, until it became impossible.

  29. Thank how incredibly refreshing to hear and honest unbiased opinion of whats going on. I am sure none of these people would choose to be here if they felt there was any other to be heard but those mandating these heavy handed measures.

  30. my daughter and her boyfriend were in ottawa on saturday feb.6 2022 and she went right down into the crowd she said it was a peaceful demonstration no racism or white supremist or nothing like the media and government wants u to think people were very nice and very peaceful.she did say it was loud but that’s to be expected
    and that’s first hand facts media needs to tell the honest truth and so should the government

  31. “The rain began to get harder; I moved quickly through the intersection to the next block. This time I waved at a driver in one of the big rigs. Through the rain it was hard to see him”

    Heavy rain in Ottawa during the middle of winter? How does that make any sense?

    1. Yup, it was raining. Started as a drizzle around 10pm then got quite hard. Around midnight it started to turn to snow. Look up the meteorological records for Ottawa on the night of February 2nd – you’ll see that’s exactly what the weather was. The picture in my post is taken from my bedroom when I got home – by that time the snow started to accumulate.


      1. Thank you for doing your own research and enlightening us all. Beautifully written from an “outsiders”perspective.
        You sir are not an outsider. You are a Canadian like the rest of us.

      2. WE needed this commentary! Although I disagree with the blockage, it is fantastic to your reader to hear the cross section of humanity express themselves on a very necessary conversation of “whom we are! Although from the States also affected by this boycott, it is so humbly interesting to read the thoughts and words of “my fellow mankind of our Canadian North and Northwest!

  32. Thank you for writing this. There is always 2 sides to every story . I was under impressions that the horns blared day and night ,thanks for clearing that up .

    1. Yes always two sides to Every Coin and Every Story…She didn’t talk about the Injunction petitioned to the court by a young Ottawa resident to stop the Horns so that she could finally get some sleep as these were blaring all night long. I too have a dear friend who lives near this Convoy in downtown Ottawa. He had to leave his residence and move in with friends so that he could get away from the noise. He has not worked all last week and possibly this week because of the interference from the Convoy, so his employer closed the shop. This person also did not speak to the feces, urine and garbage covered streets such as Sussex, Rideau and Wellington which my Friend witnessed when coming back to his apartment on Sunday. So yes there are definitely 2 sides to this story. It is not all Glory and Innocence

      1. If you know the geography of Ottawa, Kent Street leads right into Wellington. Kent was one of the main exits from the 417 that the convoy used to get into the core and Kent is now a parking lot. This is the truth: Kent Street is quieter at night than before the convoy arrived. There is a yahoo with a fancy and very loud sports car who lives in a tower just west of me. He likes to zoom up Kent Street late into the evening – and for some reason very early in the morning sometimes. Obviously he hasn’t been able to do that this week. And the convoy is quiet at night.

      2. I’ve walked these streets and I couldn’t disagree with you more. I have never seen cleaner streets where these protesters are located. You’re speaking from someone else’s view. Do yourself a favor and go look yourself. You may find yourself with a different view then your current one.
        I was doubtful myself, i was not a supporter, but the two completely stories being told on our television and the one on social media forced me to get out of my bubble and find out for myself. What I saw and experienced was nothing like what was being portrayed on Nation television. When we arrived in Ottawa from our home 3 hours away, I saw friendly faces, people laughing and talking. I saw a plethora of free food tables, free clothing tables, people cooking for free. I was told “everything is closed in the core” that was also false. We found friendly shop keepers with their doors open. We purchased Creps (my first ever which was amazing) from a shop 1 block from the main stage area. We ate from an open pizza place not far from there. I didn’t see any fights, no harassing people, no nazi flags, though there was one on the first day of the rally to which the protesters said had nothing to do with their cause. It is saddening to see these people portrayed by the main stream media as terrorists and racists. The media has painted an extremely unjustified picture of this group.
        I would hope more would take the time to go and see what is happening before the pass judgement on what is happening.
        I for one was changed by what I saw and experienced

  33. How refreshing to read the truth about the brave people in Ottawa who are there to protect our rights. Thank you for your well-written account as opposed to the crap that we get from the media and politicians. So many people have access only to their lies so it is no wonder that so many people criticize the protestors. I will repost this and send to everyone I know and those I don’t. Thank you, David.

  34. Thanks for the clear and honest report. Too bad our so called leaders couldn’t be as interested.

  35. Please share your findings with your friends, neighbors and families. There are too many falsehoods being spread around about these wonderful people. Thank you for having the open heart to go out and find the true nature of these wonderful people.
    I’m an American, 69 years old, female working class woman. My husband, now 78, and I worked the copper mines for 30+ years in Arizona and prior to that he drove a truck delivering building materials, fuel, or whatever was needed. Every winter he spent his time in the northern states in the cold and ice delivering these goods. It’s actually not a bad life other than being away from home and family.
    God Bless you for keeping an open mind.

  36. Your human approach to this discussion defuses the social confusion in this reader. Exposing the major question of democracy is vital to these times and the future. Good work.

  37. To see Canadians from different parts of Canada in one place would be an honour! If I would be there I would go with my kids to the People of the Convoy with Canada map to mark the places from where the people of the Convoy come from, to see the rigs and trucks ( mostly for kids), to remember the 2022 as not only the year of masks mandate, mandatory vaccination, and lockdowns but a year when the truckers of Canada represented the people of Canada in protesting the government for Freedom and Equal Rights for everyone.

  38. Good day,
    Thank you for your candid yet rather very poignant discoveries. Very much appreciated!

  39. It’s about time someone did some reporting, yeah…you are but a few to get the real news, thanks for speaking out and letting everyone know.

  40. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Our lives, our bodies, our choice, our country. The light will shine brighter each day, and bring more out of the darkness. Truth will always prevail. The MSM days are numbered. People are waking up, as this movement of love and unity shines a light over us all. Go Canada go!! Honk honk!!!🚚🚚📢📢

  41. Cheers. Hanging out down here in the lost zone of Ontario, Lambton County, it was refreshing to read your insightful words describing a walk among fellow Canadians. As children many of us can recall the phrase, ” sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”, sadly the leaders and wannabe leaders are doing their best to hurl words of insult at those whom they represent.

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