Horizon Ottawa is an organization that seeks to create a better city for everyone. A key part of that as it is described in our basis of unity is building a city that is inclusive, where everyone feels as though they belong and has the freedom to move around our city safely regardless of race, religion, age, ability, sex, gender, sexual orientation, language or class.
Over this weekend, Ottawa is expected to see a deluge of “protesters” claiming to be speaking on behalf of all of our “freedoms.” What they fail to mention is that the leaders of this group and several involved are in fact members of far right extremist groups who are at their core hateful, racist, misogynistic and homophobic. To them we say: you are not welcome here.
Although we agree that governments across Canada have not handled the pandemic well, it is not because of measures that have been put in place to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus like social distancing, vaccines, and testing.
Governments have repeatedly failed to protect the health and lives of children, students and workers; have not provided equal vaccine access to BIPOC and low-income folks; and refuse to put people over private profit.
We acknowledge people want to be safe. However, we are concerned with the response from local officials and our city’s police department who have published graphics welcoming these people to our city, displaying a clear double standard when it comes to how they handle most other types of protests.
We only have to look at events of the last two years to see this to be true. In November 2020, for example, police violently raided mostly BIPOC demonstrators and their allies for protesting an increase in the police budget. The same can be said for protests in recent months where groups like the Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition occupied a roadway in order to protest the police budget. It is clear that police are only interested in “creating safe spaces” and upholding the right of protest for some communities but not others.
As an organization committed to anti-racism, decolonizing our city, and combating white supremacy we join others throughout our city in condemning this protest and the hateful rhetoric and action it brings. As residents of Ottawa we demand that leaders and those with influence across this city do the same - they have no excuse not to.
Friends, please be safe and remember that the only thing that can defeat hatred is solidarity.
Horizon Ottawa Board of Directors