Sandy Hill residents invited to make their views on the “Freedom Convoy” heard

John Cockburn


At the end of September, the Ottawa People’s Commission held a hearing at Patro d’Ottawa in Lowertown about this year’s occupation by the so-called Freedom Convoy. The hearing kicked off a series of in-person and online events that over the next three months will give community members — downtown residents, business owners, service providers and others, including supporters of the convoy’s aims or actions — a chance to share their experiences and perspectives on the trucker blockade that paralyzed parts of the national capital for three weeks last winter.

Four commissioners with deep experience in human rights and community action have been recruited: Alex Neve, Leilani Farha, Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah, and Monia Mazigh, with Sandy Hill resident Randy Boswell serving as communications coordinator.

The hearing’s opening remarks set the tone in noting that the abuses inflicted by the convoy were serious abuses of the rights of not only residents but also those who worked and had business in the downtown core. A few examples of what was shared:

  • A Centretown resident described how access to her home was restricted by trucks on Kent Street, noise and littering was constant, personal confrontations with demonstrators were frequent, and there was general apathy by police and bylaw to her predicament.
  • An Overbrook resident focused on the impact of the convoy refuge on Coventry Road. In his view, the impacts in Overbrook were not recognized because of the racialized and low-income makeup of its population.
  • A downtown social worker noted many trucks had been outfitted with locomotive horns operating above 150 decibels.
  • An intensive care nurse who lives on Parkdale Avenue described how she was unable to sleep after her 12-hour shifts due to truck noise as they exited the 417.
  • A disabled senior from Centretown noted that he and his peers had no options, compared to those in other well-off parts of the city, for adjusting to life with the convoy and that many lost their support services. On the other hand, the convoy seemed extremely well outfitted with food, drink, and police escorts.

Concerns expressed by others were fears resulting from uncertainties about the convoy’s intentions and the general lack of response by authorities.

It’s clear there are not only many issues specifically with respect to the convoy but also more general disaffection with the functioning of our government on many levels. This, it seems, is shared by the convoy members and residents alike.

If you have views on how the convoy affected your life or Sandy Hill (there were no Sandy Hill intervenors at this hearing) visit and let them be known.