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Making our voices heard

Ottawa People’s Commission is a grassroots effort to promote healing and justice after the convoy occupation of Ottawa-Gatineau in 2022.

OPC is an initiative of the Centretown Community Health Centre.

What we heard

Convoy timeline

Hearing highlights

Support OPC

What we heard

OPC has released Part I of its report, entitled What we heard. This report offers key findings and highlights testimony from hearings, community consultations and written submissions, providing compelling evidence of the convoy occupation’s impact. 

Part II of the report, to be released in March 2023, will offer further analysis and recommendations for action. 

I felt trapped in my own apartment, felt threatened by the occupiers using the parking lot directly facing my building as a mustering point, and had ongoing headaches, likely due to the noise and fumes.

Helen

How could we feel safe navigating our neighbourhood while the protesters/occupiers loafing about Sparks Street and Queen Street demonstrated such a blatant disrespect of the rule of law and respect for residents?

Paul

The occupiers just didn’t care that they were disrupting the lives of people like me. They seemed to believe that the nonsense they were shouting was all that mattered. They were totally self-involved and indifferent to the concerns of my community.

Evelyn

This occupation is white supremacy on steroids and you have left us to languish in their torrent of hate and violence.

Amy

Think of all the other Canadians who lived through the pandemic and suffered the same restrictions, some of whom suffered great personal tragedy and financial loss. If they could find a way through, why couldn’t the occupiers?

Nancy
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This was an occupation

For the residents of Ottawa, this was much more than a benign convoy, and was very different from a peaceful or even legitimately provocative and disruptive protest or demonstration. Consistently people describe what they went through as an occupation, and that they felt invaded and under siege.

People felt occupied in that their communities were taken over by force and without their agreement, both physically by way of blocking streets with large trucks and other vehicles, and by accosting people for wearing masks, as well as psychologically through such methods as blaring horns and displaying symbols and messages of hate, racism and discrimination.

I felt trapped in my own apartment, felt threatened by the occupiers using the parking lot directly facing my building as a mustering point, and had ongoing headaches, likely due to the noise and fumes.

Helen

How could we feel safe navigating our neighbourhood while the protesters/occupiers loafing about Sparks Street and Queen Street demonstrated such a blatant disrespect of the rule of law and respect for residents?

Paul

The occupiers just didn’t care that they were disrupting the lives of people like me. They seemed to believe that the nonsense they were shouting was all that mattered. They were totally self-involved and indifferent to the concerns of my community.

Evelyn

This occupation is white supremacy on steroids and you have left us to languish in their torrent of hate and violence.

Amy

Think of all the other Canadians who lived through the pandemic and suffered the same restrictions, some of whom suffered great personal tragedy and financial loss. If they could find a way through, why couldn’t the occupiers?

Nancy

It was violent

Overwhelmingly, the community’s experience of the convoy was anything but peaceful. We heard instead, extensive descriptions of violence. Physical and psychological violence that was pervasive, harmful and frightening.  Acts of violence and threats of violence. Violence that many described as terrorizing and traumatizing.

Blockading residences and businesses with big rigs, blaring horns incessantly at harmful decibel levels, convoy participants created a climate of hostility and aggression wherever they went in Ottawa. Many residents reported being accosted and even assaulted by convoy participants for wearing masks. Some were intimidated, threatened and insulted with racist, misogynist, Islamophobic, homophobic, transphobic and other taunts, as well as with displays of antisemitic and racist flags, banners and posters.

I felt trapped in my own apartment, felt threatened by the occupiers using the parking lot directly facing my building as a mustering point, and had ongoing headaches, likely due to the noise and fumes.

Helen

How could we feel safe navigating our neighbourhood while the protesters/occupiers loafing about Sparks Street and Queen Street demonstrated such a blatant disrespect of the rule of law and respect for residents?

Paul

The occupiers just didn’t care that they were disrupting the lives of people like me. They seemed to believe that the nonsense they were shouting was all that mattered. They were totally self-involved and indifferent to the concerns of my community.

Evelyn

This occupation is white supremacy on steroids and you have left us to languish in their torrent of hate and violence.

Amy

Think of all the other Canadians who lived through the pandemic and suffered the same restrictions, some of whom suffered great personal tragedy and financial loss. If they could find a way through, why couldn’t the occupiers?

Nancy

The people of Ottawa were abandoned

The people of Centretown, Lowertown, Vanier and Overbrook were undeniably abandoned by police and government. Amidst a strategy that appeared to be designed to offer maximum leeway to the convoy and was focused on avoiding confrontation with convoy participants, for several weeks, police and bylaw officers virtually stopped enforcing the law. At the same time, residents and business owners were provided little or no information about conditions on the ground and plans for resolving the crisis. This stands in sharp contrast to the swift and often aggressive enforcement action that marks police responses to other disruptive, yet peaceful, protests, and the strong communication from police and government during other crises or disruptive, large-scale public events.

I felt trapped in my own apartment, felt threatened by the occupiers using the parking lot directly facing my building as a mustering point, and had ongoing headaches, likely due to the noise and fumes.

Helen

How could we feel safe navigating our neighbourhood while the protesters/occupiers loafing about Sparks Street and Queen Street demonstrated such a blatant disrespect of the rule of law and respect for residents?

Paul

The occupiers just didn’t care that they were disrupting the lives of people like me. They seemed to believe that the nonsense they were shouting was all that mattered. They were totally self-involved and indifferent to the concerns of my community.

Evelyn

This occupation is white supremacy on steroids and you have left us to languish in their torrent of hate and violence.

Amy

Think of all the other Canadians who lived through the pandemic and suffered the same restrictions, some of whom suffered great personal tragedy and financial loss. If they could find a way through, why couldn’t the occupiers?

Nancy

Community mobilized

Many people launched or became involved in initiatives to provide protection to people who were at risk. This took the form of well-publicized community safety walks, including some that were organized by downtown City councillors, as well as unofficial and spontaneous accompaniment for people who were fearful or nervous about walking through areas occupied by the convoy. People also made an effort to check in on neighbours who they knew were particularly vulnerable, including the elderly and people with disabilities.

In the absence of police protection and bylaw enforcement, and faced with the cancellation or dramatic reduction of many essential public services and programs, there was exceptional community mobilization to address basic concerns about safety, and to help vulnerable community members access food, medical supplies and other necessities.

I felt trapped in my own apartment, felt threatened by the occupiers using the parking lot directly facing my building as a mustering point, and had ongoing headaches, likely due to the noise and fumes.

Helen

How could we feel safe navigating our neighbourhood while the protesters/occupiers loafing about Sparks Street and Queen Street demonstrated such a blatant disrespect of the rule of law and respect for residents?

Paul

The occupiers just didn’t care that they were disrupting the lives of people like me. They seemed to believe that the nonsense they were shouting was all that mattered. They were totally self-involved and indifferent to the concerns of my community.

Evelyn

This occupation is white supremacy on steroids and you have left us to languish in their torrent of hate and violence.

Amy

Think of all the other Canadians who lived through the pandemic and suffered the same restrictions, some of whom suffered great personal tragedy and financial loss. If they could find a way through, why couldn’t the occupiers?

Nancy

Occupation timeline

During the three-and-a-half week occupation and beyond, Ottawa residents relied on community sources, media coverage, and posts, photos and footage from social media to keep safe and stay informed.

Recognizing the value of creating a community archive of this footage, documenting the impact of the convoy from the perspective of local residents, workers, and businesses, OPC crowd-sourced this timeline.

You can contribute to this archive using this form.

We’re looking for your input

It’s not too late to share your convoy occupation story. We also want to hear your recommendations.

Download our Guidance for written submissions and send us your thoughts.

Download guide

Click on the boxes to learn more.

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Commission

A dynamic group from diverse backgrounds and politics came together to create OPC, with support from the Centretown Community Health Centre.

Commissioners

OPC is led by four respected, independent and empathetic Commissioners with deep experience in human rights and community action.

Public Hearings

People shared their stories and presented their views at hearings and community consultations — and through written submissions.

Diverse voices

OPC has made special efforts to reach out to those who are too often overlooked, ignored or silenced.

Help fund OPC

 OPC relies on the community for support.

We welcome donations from individuals, businesses, unions, foundations, community agencies and others.

OPC is a program of the Centretown Community Health Centre. Donations through their CanadaHelps portal are eligible for a charitable tax receipt.

As well, the Ottawa Community Foundation has created a special Fund to channel support to OPC’s work.

DONATE TODAY

Frequently Asked Questions

Who’s behind the OPC?

A dynamic group of local residents with diverse backgrounds and politics came together to create OPC as a non-partisan response to the convoy occupation. Sharing their vision and commitment, Centretown Community Health Centre then adopted OPC as a program. OPC enjoys support from a broad range of groups committed to promoting healing, building community and holding governments to account.

How did OPC collect the community's experiences?

Though the autumn of 2022, OPC held 14 hearings, four in-person and ten online, inviting local residents to share their stories of the occupation and their views on what should be done to avoid a repeat. As well, eight community consultations were held with different groups, and meetings were held with community leaders and experts.

In addition, OPC received written submissions from local residents who shared their stories and digital evidence of the occupation’s impact.

What role does CCHC play?

OPC is a program of Centretown Community Health Centre. CCHC provides funding and administrative and logistics support – and helps ensure OPC activities are planned with an eye to reducing stress and relieving trauma.

What value is OPC? Haven’t the federal and municipal governments launched inquiries?

The federal inquiries — parliamentary and judicial — focus on the Emergencies Act and cover the whole country. The City’s inquiry is being conducted by the City’s Auditor General and is very narrow in scope. OPC puts the community’s interests first, creating a space for residents to share their stories, name their concerns, identify solutions, and press for action. It’s an avenue to healing and to justice.

Is it too late to provide input?

You can still share your story and recommendations in writing. Download the Guidance for written submissions to learn how.

How do I follow OPC’s activities?

News and updates are posted here. You can keep in touch by signing up for updates. As well, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter , Instagram, and YouTube.

How is OPC funded?

OPC relies on the community for support. Donations are welcome from individuals, businesses, unions, foundations, and community agencies – and can be made here.

Are donations tax-deductible?

Donations are eligible for charitable tax receipts from the Centretown Community Health Centre through their CanadaHelps portal.

The convoy occupation has ended. Why do we need OPC?

Many were traumatized by the occupation, and remain frustrated their story has not been heard and their opinion has not been sought. There has been no redress for their losses and no accountability for the failure of governments at all levels to protect their health or defend their rights.

Echoes of the occupation and threats of future disruptions continue. So it’s important we come together to look at why we are facing this violence and how best to end it.

Some were more impacted by the occupation than others. How will the OPC reflect that?

For some, the days of the convoy were the first time they felt uncomfortable or intimidated in their own community. Others faced a heightened risk, but being targeted, taunted and trolled is part of their daily reality.

OPC is working with leaders from diverse communities – in particular, those who face higher levels of hate, discrimination and violence – to ensure we capture their experience before, during and since the occupation, and recommend actions that create greater safety and respect for everyone.

How Can You Help?

OPC cannot operate without funds and volunteers. Your contribution, however small, can make a big difference, ensuring the community’s voice is heard.

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