Ottawa homeless shelter staff harassed by convoy demanding food

An Ottawa homeless shelter says protesters from the “Freedom Convoy” harassed some staff and volunteers Saturday, demanding food from its soup kitchen.

The convoy, billed as a protest against COVID-19 mandates, brought thousands of people to downtown Ottawa. While the bulk of the crowd remained on Parliament Hill and was largely peaceful, the Shepherds of Good Hope said on social media that there was an incident at its shelter.

“Earlier today, our staff and volunteers experienced harassment from convoy protestors seeking meals from our soup kitchen,” the Shepherds said on Twitter on Saturday. “The individuals were given meals to diffuse the conflict. Management was then informed of the issue and no further meals were given to protest. Our soup kitchen is committed to providing meals to people experiencing and at risk of homelessness in Ottawa. This weekend’s events have caused significant strain to our operations at an already difficult time.”

The Shepherds of Good Hope is one of the shelters and service providers in Ottawa’s downtown for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

The protest, which drew in people from across the country, created gridlock and noise throughout the downtown core. Ottawa’s downtown shopping mall, the Rideau Centre, was forced to close its doors early on Saturday because of a large number of maskless demonstrators inside. The mall will remain closed Sunday.

While the crowd of protesters was raucous, Tattawa police reported no major incidents and said no arrests were made Saturday.

However, protesters were condemned on social media for some of their actions. The mayors of Ottawa and Port Coquitlam, BC—Terry Fox’s hometown—called out people who had placed protest signs and an upside down Canadian flag on the Terry Fox statue across the street from the Parliament buildings. Canada’s chief of defense staff and others condemned a video showing an individual standing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial. Conservative MP Michael Cooper issued a statement calling out someone who had appeared behind him in a TV interview with a Canadian flag defaced by a swastika.

As with the Terry Fox statue incident, which prompted some people on social media to announce they had donated to the Terry Fox Foundation, the incident at the Shepherds of Good Hope also had some pleading to donate to the shelter in response to the incident involving the Protesters.

The “Freedom Convoy” continues Sunday.

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